Intro to Privacy
Data-collecting gencies (DCAs) have many ways of collecting information about the general public. This information is potentially valuable to advertisers, who want to know "what makes people tick" so they can better present their clients' products to the general public. Most of the time, the information is kept anonymous (meaning: it is used for demographic purposes only and is not related to information that could tie the data to a specific individual) or won't be sold to third-parties.
There are U.S. laws which prevent the sale of personal information without the explicit consent of the individual. However, many of these laws are insufficient to combat data collection over the Internet.
Thus, the Internet has become, to an unscrupulous DCA, a giant ocean full of websurfers and software-users who have very easily discernible preferences. Taking advantage of this situation is simple and will reap large rewards to those who enter this field. One DCA boasted that it had a database of hundreds of millions of people, and could, at a moment's notice, describe a given person's preferences, both online and offline.
As appalling as that may seem to some people, the purpose of this site is not to make you hate DCAs or advertisers. Advertising on the web allows many people to provide web content or create and distribute useful software. This site will, however, point out the instances in which the methods of data collection are intrusive to the point of actually harming people or software on their machine, along with informing the end-users of software and websites how they can keep their personal information private and rid their computers of various advertising-related annoyances.
DisclaimerUse or don't use the advice given on this site at your own discretion. The webmaster claims no responsibility for damages to your hardware, software, or dignity. The webmaster has no affiliation with any of the entities (corporate or otherwise) mentioned on the site, and for the most part, prefers to keep it that way. Intro to Spyware