Healthcare is a sector that is considered sacred in many countries. But recently, this sector has been subject to a lot of criticism.
Many of the big consumer healthcare companies like Myriad Genetics, Health Union, Invitae, Color Genomics, and Citizen are involved. As reported by Wired, a study concluded that two companies out of these five might have crossed the limits in terms of forming policies to use the user’s data visiting their websites.
But this incident raises a huge issue of entities performing questionable practices regarding users’ data. There are digital privacy laws in each country that must be followed. However, regulations typically lack behind technology and innovations. Thus, controlling companies and their scope become challenging.
This fear of lack of privacy and security must stop. To stop it, we must learn what is happening exactly.
What are website ad trackers?
Website owners use website ad trackers to collect data about visitors to their websites. This data can include information about the websites that people visit, the ads they click on, and their purchase of products.
Website ad trackers can be used to collect this data in two ways. The first way is by installing a cookie on the visitor’s computer. A cookie is a small piece of data stored on the visitor’s computer by the website ad tracker. The second way is by using a pixel tag.
A pixel tag is a small code installed on the website’s web page. When the web page is loaded, the pixel tag sends information about the visitor to the website ad tracker.
Why do health care websites use ad trackers?
Health websites use ad trackers to collect data about their visitors 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, which ads they click on, and where they are coming from. So, it is all about personalizing the users’ experience. However, many experts conclude that new data privacy rules shape new practices, abandoning older standards.
This data can be used to improve the website’s design, the content that is offered, and how the website is marketed. It can also identify potential customers and create targeted marketing campaigns.
Healthcare advertisers can use this data to target relevant ads to visitors of healthcare websites. For instance, an advertising company may want to target people who have a specific health condition with an advertisement for a medication used to treat that condition. For some users, it might seem unethical to exploit their health for ad delivery.
Why is ad tracking an issue?
Every internet user around the globe has the right to privacy, and no company can deny or neglect this fact. But some healthcare companies worldwide are not abiding by this. They are letting ads track the visitor data without clearly informing them about that.
Thus, consumer mistrust over their data and privacy continues to increase. Many turn to available privacy-protection tools. Others also stop using services that violate their clients’ data.
There are a few privacy tools that you can use to avoid ad trackers. Ad blockers are one of the first available defense systems. Essentially, it prevents ads from loading on your screen. Some extensions can block website ad trackers from collecting data about the visitor.
Anonymous browsing modes will prevent the website ad tracker from collecting any information about the visitor. It includes the websites you visit, the ads you click on, and the products you purchase. Thus, it is always recommended to browse in private modes, available in most popular browsers. However, do not be mistaken about what incognito mode (or a similar feature) can do. They help, but they are far from enough.
Guaranteeing the ultimate digital privacy needs more. A Virtual Private Network is one of the tools to stand guard against tracking or common privacy invasions. For instance, it stops IP-based tracking and even protects you from Internet Service Providers. The latter could slow down your traffic or sell your data to third parties as well. So, download VPN, pair it with incognito mode, refuse tracking cookies, and your experience will become much more private.
Health websites use ad trackers to collect data about their visitors to improve their websites and provide better services to their customers. But these advantages are in the limelight for now as some healthcare company websites are misusing this tool.
They are not informing their visitors that their data is being collected by the website ad tracker and are instead using it for their financial benefits. Therefore, using the steps mentioned above to keep yourself safe online is crucial.