For many with a health problem, the first port of call is a quick online search in hope of self-diagnosis. Research has revealed that your activity doesn’t always stay with the website you visited.
“It’s law for EU-based websites to list the third-parties they work with in their cookies policy and should automatically opt you out by default. Unfortunately, this does not extend to websites outside of the EU, meaning there’s a lot of guesswork as to where and with whom our most intimate searches are being shared,” said Stuart Spice, director of B9 Systems.
Further research indicated that in a survey of 100 internet users, 89% had used a medical website to help self-diagnose an ailment at some point, yet only 42% understood that the activity they conducted was then shared with other third-party companies. This means 58% of the users surveyed had no idea that their information was being passed onto companies after they had clicked ‘Accept’ on the site’s cookies policy.
When asked how many third-party companies users thought their information was being shared with, 56% believed it was between one and ten, and 7% of users believed that no third-parties received their information. Only 11% of users correctly predicted that over 40 companies are receiving their information via the medical sites.