Who are you, what do you do and who is watching you do it?
Three simple questions, posed by a new interactive documentary called Do Not Track. If you’re curious to know exactly what information you’re offering up online when you visit websites, then you’ll want to take part in the interactive portions of their upcoming sessions which run from now until June.
Created by Brett Gaylor, the site deep dives into the hidden world of data ticking away under the bonnet of your browsing experience. You may already run privacy tools such as Ad blockers or browser extensions such as Ghostery, but there’s a difference between seeing a list of sites blocked and witnessing first hand where all of your data is going.
Episode 1 is called Morning Rituals, and deals with “The trackers, an industry most people can’t see, control or question”.
Over the morning, I give away Gigabytes of information about myself - and I give it without being asked.
The short, 5 (ish) minute long films mashup looped gifs from movies, TV and some truly ancient Internet imagery along an informative voice-over and occasional plinky-plunky music. They also wheel out some basic geolocation tricks which will surely make at least a couple of people sit up and take notice (with the occasional cup of spilt coffee).
I know that this is where you live. I know that it's a nice night.
After some general background information related to online data collection, the video pauses to ask where you get your news from.
It shows some of the so-called trackers (red dots) in the background. It then asks you where you go for entertainment purposes, shows trackers from that site, then illustrates which ones are shared and so can potentially make connections about the person browsing.
On the Internet, we say okay to everything. We never really know what we're okaying.
It’s fascinating stuff (and not overcomplicated, so anybody can take part) and people with an interest in data collection and ad networks should definitely bookmark the site as future episodes are released. They’re not particularly interactive yet (the second video only asks 2 questions related to news sites and how much you’d pay to not be tracked for a year), though I suspect audience participation will increase as the series moves on.