Why Google, Facebook like companies are collecting your personal data?

You may have known that, big companies like Google, Facebook are desired to collect user data. They know you very well, in fact, more than what you can think of. They know your name, your phone number, where you live, your buying habits, what you search, your daily habits - sometimes even before you do. They are termed as Data Brokers.

You will be surprised to know that much of this data collection trade has existed for decades. Today, what has changed is the volume and nature of the data being extracted from the Internet. First, it was just the PCs and Laptops, now handheld devices like smartphones have become the main target for the companies.
Acxiom is one of the largest data-brokering firms in the world. It is just one of hundreds of companies who are peering into your personal life, collecting data that is generated from everything you do online, and much of what you do in the real world.

Why do companies are collect your personal data?

They collect your data in order to build up your profile, which can be used to push you targeted ads, similar contents, products, services etc. This has become big business now as customers are willing to pay a lot of money for such data, that can help them target specific segments of the market. 
There has been an unprecedented growth of a multi-billion dollar industry of data brokers. They collect, analyze and package some of your most sensitive personal information and sell it as a commodity to businesses, advertisers, other data brokers and even the government without letting them know.
Currently, there is no comprehensive federal regulation for data brokers. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report on protecting consumer privacy in which they recommended that Congress consider legislation overseeing online privacy, data security and breach notification, and data brokers.

How they collect your personal data?

You may think that how it's possible to track your web movement when you traverse from one site to another. Data Brokers are specialist firms across the web. They use tools like Cookies, web beacons, e-tags and a variety of other tools.

Cookies are widely used on desktop computers. It is a small piece of code that are dropped on a user’s browser, which collect all your movement on that browser.

Where, a Web beacon is a small transparent graphic image that is placed on a website or in an email and used to monitor the browsing or email-sending behavior of the user.

In case of smartphones, most of the free apps that you happily install on your phone ask for permission to access your address book or location. We quickly and happily give it, since we are eager to use the app. This is how the apps get access to your data and steal your contacts details and more.

Protect your privacy

It is very common among security concern people to take privacy issues seriously. When we hear that a particular service collects our personal data, we get extremely anxious. We will not use services that collect personal data that are not necessary to render the service.

Sometimes we forgot to use a useful service, just because it requires that we feed in personal data, or because we do not like the wording of the privacy policy.

A few things you could do to protect your privacy online like use a VPN, frequently clear your Internet cache & cookies or better till surf in the Incognito mode, be careful what you share on the social media and be aware of the pages you Like.

Use a good security software to secure your device and be careful of what information you give out online. Also, be aware of Phishing emails, Social Engineering and Identity Theft.

But whatever you do, you will still be tracked! There is nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, if you are online, rest assured that you have been tracked!