Lesson 4.7: Online Advertising


On this page, you will learn more about protecting your digital privacy. 

How companies use your online information

Although most of the personal information stored about you will make it easier for you to communicate with others and to access information and entertainment, it can also be used in harmful ways. You might receive electronic ads in your e-mail inbox that are addressed to you personally and are tailored specifically to your interests.

~ Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Youth Privacy, 2012

Before you watch the video from Common Sense Media , take a moment to think about how you have observed companies keeping and using your online information. Jot down some examples from your own life. Then, after watching, open the tab below to review the main ideas

  • Companies track what you search, share, buy and click online in order to tailor your online experience.
  • This means that the same search for two people doesn't guarantee the same results.
  • When you search, are you guided toward broad horizons?
  • Or, when you search, are you led down a narrow path?
  • What info is highlighted for you?
  • What info is hidden from you?

Common Sense Media, Does it Matter Who Has Your Data?, Grades 9-12

"Behavioural advertising is typically based on web browser "cookies"... For example, visiting a website or launching a search about tourist sites in Montreal could trigger more travel-related ads as you browse the web. Advertisers say it's a good way to get relevant ads to users but many feel the practice is an invasion of privacy, even if the ad companies don't receive personal information through cookies."

~ Canadians to get opt-out tool for history-tracking web ads, CBC Canada, May 16, 2012

Definition of Cookies

Pieces of text that a Web server can store on a user's hard disk; cookies allow a Web site to store information on a user's machine and later retrieve it. How Internet cookies work, How stuff works , Retrieved September 2012
"There are a few existing ways for Internet users to stop seeing most behavioural ads as they surf the web. The latest versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox web browsers have do-not-track features, while Google has an optional download for its Chrome browser called "Keep My Opt-Outs." Security software maker AVG has also incorporated a similar feature into its free anti-virus software, which is turned on as a default setting. "

~ Canadians to get opt-out tool for history-tracking web ads, CBC Canada, May 16, 2012

  1. Work with a partner or a group of friends. Decide on an exact search term that you will all enter into the same search engine. For example, you could try "best places for outdoor adventures in Alberta". After you have performed the search, compare your results. What could account for the differences?
  2. Empty the cache on the computer that you are working on. If you need help, read over the articles above or contact tech support.