Do health-related websites share user data with advertisers?

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Health is a sector considered sacred in many countries. But recently, this sector has been the subject of much criticism.

Many major consumer healthcare companies such as Myriad Genetics, Health Union, Invitae, Color Genomics and Citizen are involved. As reported by Wireda study concluded that two out of five companies may have crossed the line in terms of forming policies for the use of data from users visiting their websites.

But this incident raises a huge problem of entities performing questionable practices regarding user data. There are digital privacy laws in every country that must be followed. However, regulations generally lack technology and innovation. Thus, the control of companies and their perimeter becomes a challenge.

This fear of lack of privacy and security must end. To stop it, we need to learn what exactly is going on.

What are website ad trackers?

Website owners use ad trackers to collect data about visitors to their websites. This data may include information about the websites people visit, the advertisements they click on, and their product purchases.

Website ad trackers can be used to collect this data in two ways. The first is to install a cookie on the visitor’s computer. A cookie is a small piece of data stored on the visitor’s computer by the website’s advertising tracker. The second method is to use a pixel tag.

A pixel tag is a small code installed on the web page of the website. When the webpage loads, the pixel tag sends information about the visitor to the website’s ad tracker.

Why do healthcare websites use ad trackers?

Health websites use ad trackers to collect data about their visitors in order to improve their websites and provide better services to their customers. They use this data to understand what products and services people are interested in, what advertisements they click on and where they come from. It is therefore a question of personalizing the user experience. However, many experts conclude that the new data privacy rules shaping new practicesabandoning the old norms.

This data may be used to improve the design of the website, the content offered and the way the website is marketed. It can also identify potential customers and create targeted marketing campaigns.

Healthcare advertisers may use this data to target relevant ads to visitors to healthcare websites. For example, an advertising agency may want to target people with a specific health condition with an advertisement for a drug used to treat that condition. For some users, it may seem unethical to exploit their health for ad serving.

Why is ad tracking a problem?

Every internet user in the world has a right to privacy, and no company can deny or overlook this fact. But some healthcare companies around the world don’t respect that. They let ads track visitor data without clearly informing them.

As a result, consumer distrust of their data and privacy continues to grow. Many turn to the privacy tools available. Others also stop using services that breach their customers’ data.

There are a few privacy tools you can use to avoid ad trackers. Ad Blockers are one of the first defense systems available. Essentially, it stops ads from loading on your screen. Some extensions may prevent website ad trackers from collecting visitor data.

Anonymous browsing modes will prevent the website’s ad tracker from collecting information about the visitor. This includes the websites you visit, the advertisements you click on and the products you buy. Thus, it is always recommended to browse in private mode, which is available in most popular browsers. However, make no mistake what incognito mode (or a similar feature) can do. They help, but they are far from sufficient.

Ensuring ultimate digital privacy requires more. A virtual private network is one of the tools to guard against tracking or common invasions of privacy. For example, it stops IP-based tracking and even protects you from internet service providers. The latter could also slow down your traffic or sell your data to third parties. So, download vpnPair it with incognito mode, opt out of tracking cookies, and your experience will become much more private.

Conclusion

Health websites use ad trackers to collect data about their visitors in order to improve their websites and provide better services to their customers. But these benefits are in the spotlight at the moment as some healthcare company websites are misusing this tool.

They do not inform their visitors that their data is collected by the website’s ad tracker and instead use it for their financial benefits. Therefore, it is crucial to use the steps mentioned above to ensure your online safety.

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