Resources to give you more control over your online information

There are a number of resources that can give you control over what information you share over the internet. I have divided some of the ones I like into several categories including, tracking blockers, computer cleaners, and encryption.

Tracking blockers

There are a number of add-ons to your browser that will block trackers or give you control over what information you share. Some of my favorites are:


Do Not Track Plus


NoScript is probably the most powerful of the tools listed here. It will block all scripts from running on your browser without your consent. Not only will this stop trackers but it will also stop scripts, without you giving consent, such as ones that open popup windows or play flash videos.

Cleaning trackers

If you already have trackers on your computer, you can clean them with free programs. One good example is:

CCleaner found at:

Search engines that do not track

Search engines generally track you online. However, here are a few that do not:

Start Page

Duck Duck Go

Anonymity online through encryption

If these other protections are not enough and you want stronger anonymity online, you can use TOR. TOR is an encryption program that routes all of your online activity through three different random computers on its network. That, combined with very strong encryption, means that no one computer knows who you are and what you are doing on the internet. It can be downloaded at:

Other Tips

Social Networking sites, such as Facebook, are some of the worst trackers on the internet. If you are worried about tracking, you should access social networking sites in a different browser.

Play with the privacy settings in your browser. Not all tracking is bad and some of it is beneficial. Play with the settings so you can set them to protect the information you want while still maintaining the functionality you want.

What are my rights if a company loses my personal information?

Do breaches of my information occur?

Yes. While big scandals such as the Target one that just occurred are not overly common, companies regularly lose personal information about consumers. Companies can lose people’s information through carelessness, due to security flaws, hackers, or even from inside jobs by employees. In the last ten years, over 4,000 data breaches have been made public and over three quarters of a billion of records have been compromised. You can find a list of all of the disclosed breaches at and not all breaches are disclosed. Companies are not required to disclose every breach of consumer information. It is likely that many more breaches have occurred.

Your rights?

Most states have laws that require companies to notify people if information is lost. However, it is limited to very specific types of information.  For example, California, one of the more protective states when it comes to information privacy laws, still limits protection to only a few types of information. This includes a person’s first name or first initial and last name combined with a social security number, a driver’s license number, credit card or debit card number along with access information, medical information, or health insurance information. Most states do not protect more than this, and most of the information companies have on you is not protected by these laws. These laws primarily give you notification if companies lose information about you that could lead to identity theft. The state laws are different. You can find a link to your specific state law at

As noted earlier, the protections under these law are generally limited to notification. To continue with the example of California, a company that loses your information must give you the date of the notice, their name and contact information, the type of information lost, the estimated time of breach, if the notification was delayed due to a law enforcement investigation, and the contact information of the major credit reporting agencies. Your rights are limited to notice; companies usually are not required to give you any money for losing your information.

Do I have legal recourse if a company loses my information?

It depends. The notification statutes give you a right to sue if the companies do not notify you and you are harmed due to that lack of notification. However, it is very hard to prove those things occurred.  You might be able to start a law suit even if notice has been given. Some victims in the Target breach are trying to sue it for damages. For more information on the lawsuit see