The way companies follow you on the internet is with what's called a "Cookie". Cookies are files that can be automatically downloaded to your computer when you go to a site that uses them. These files stay on your computer unless you remove them. And some cookies can track your internet use.|
The biggest company that gathers and sells web use information is Double Click. They have an opt-out feature on their web site that lets you tell them not to sell your internet history. The current law in many other countries says companies must have your permission to sell your web use information. But here in the US it's up to you to tell them not to sell your internet history. There are bills before the US Congress right now (7/19/01) that will give americans the same protections as other countries now enjoy. So write your congressperson!
So what can you do about it right now? Your best protection from being followed while you're on the internet is to set your internet browser to not accept cookies. Another option is to have your computer ask you each time a cookie is trying to download to your computer. You can say yes or no to individual cookies. You should also know that some web sites will not let you view their site if you have your browser set to not accept cookies.
You can choose how you want your internet browser to deal with cookies with your browser Preferences or Internet Options depending on your computer and browser. See the column to the right for information on some of the browser cookie settings.
1) PC (Windows) with Internet Explorer - These instructions are for Internet Explorer 5. Earlier or later versions may be slightly different. With Internet Explorer open go to your "Tools" menu at the top of your browser. Choose "Internet Options". From here choose "Security" at the top of the window. From here click on "Custom Level" near the bottom of the window. From here scroll down until you see cookies and make your choice. The "prompt" choice means you will be asked to say yes or no to each cookie. There is a second type of cookie listed here which are not stored on your computer. You will need to leave this type of cookie enabled to use Web Mail. To delete cookies already on your computer choose "General" on the Internet Options window and then choose "Delete Files" under "Temporary Internet Files" to delete all cookies. If want to keep some cookies (for instance if you want a site to remember your password to that site) and delete other cookies you can choose "Settings" under Temporary Internet Files. From here choose "View Files" and you will see a list of cookies and other temporary files that you can pick out and delete individually.|
2) Mac with Internet Explorer - These instructions are for Internet Explorer 5. Earlier versions of IE may be slightly different. With Internet Explorer open go to your edit menu at the top of your screen. Choose "preferences". With preferences open scroll down if needed until you see "cookies". If you don't see "cookies" you will need to click on the arrow to the left of "Receiving Files" to access cookies. Click on "Cookies". This will bring up a view of any cookies you have on your computer and the option menu for how you want to deal with cookies. To delete existing cookies just click on the cookie file and then click the "delete" button below. Then use the option menu to choose your choice for how to deal with future cookies.
3) PC (Windows) with Netscape - We will get this info to you asap. For now you can read what we have for the other 3 computer/browser combinations and probably figure it out.
4) Mac with Netscape - These instructions are for Netscape 6. Earlier versions of Netscape may be slightly different. With Netscape open go to your edit menu at the top of your screen. Choose "preferences". With preferences open scroll down if needed until you see "cookies". If you don't see cookies you will need to click on the arrow to the left of "Advanced" to access cookies. Click on "Cookies". From here you can choose how you want to deal with cookies. You can also click on the "view cookies" button to view any cookies currently on your computer. From here you can remove individual cookies or remove all cookies.