From Googling to tweeting and online shopping — we investigate how companies track every click

“It was totally jarring and shocked me to the core,” remembers Alice, now 29. Just two weeks earlier, in June 2015, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. “To see those words was a terrifying reminder that I was in this life-threatening situation,” she says. “I remember veering from finding it grimly funny to feeling really dark about it all – I guess I was just in shock.” The reason Alice came face to face with such an insensitive ad was that days earlier she had Googled treatment options for her condition. 

 “Think of your smartphone as a very effective tracking device that you willingly carry around with you everywhere you go,” explains Dr Justin Cappos, a cyber security expert and associate professor of systems and security at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.

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