- Google Analytics: which measures how long you stay on this site, how you got here, and whether you've been here before.
- Google AdSense: whsich serves some of the ads you might see floating around the site. If you've been on other sites before visiting here (why on earth would you do that?) then you might see ads relating to those sites. This is called a retargeting advert and while it may seem creepy doesn't mean that Google actually has any personal data about you. More information from Google is available here. You can control what ads you see from Google by setting your preferences here
- Twitter: wherever you see the 'tweet this' or 'follow us on Twitter' buttons, then Twitter has some knowledge of the fact that you've visited this site if you are logged in to Twitter at the time.
- Amazon: I recommend a few products from Amazon - mainly books that I've read or that have been recommended to me. If you click those links, then Amazon tracks the fact and if you happen to buy one of those books then I get a little bit of the profit (and I do mean little!)
- Disqus: Disqus is the system I use for comments on the news stories on this site. If you leave a comment then your IP address and whatever means you use to login (Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile) get recorded by Disqus.
- ..and finally: our own cookies: We don't actually store anything about you, but if you have registered as a user or contributor then we keep you logged in for 7 days via a cookie. If you have signed up as a member, your password is encrypted so I can't read it even if I look in the database.
If any of that makes you nervous or feel that your security is being compromised, there are various ways around it - and I hold no brief for any of the companies I've mentioned: using their technology means that earn a few pence (literally!) or can offer functionality of the kind that you find on most websites these days.
The Tor Browser is probably the most secure way to browse the internet. Any sites you browse while using Tor as as near to untraceable as it is possible to get.
There are a variety of add-ons for all of the major browsers that will block adverts and tracking cookies to various degrees. I can't claim to be an expert in the field, but here are some you might want to consider:
Unless you are using software such as Tor Browser (see above) then a record of every page you visit is stored somewhere - either in the files of your computer or by the people providing your internet access. In most cases, of course, this doesn't matter - but you should be aware of the fact that law enforcement agencies, people working at ISPs and any techno-whizz teenagers who might have access to your PC can find out a lot about you by studying your web history if they are so minded. While you can worry too much about such things, if you think you might be viewing material that someone (the law, a family member or your employer) would disapprove of then you should take whatever steps you feel are necessary to protect your privacy.