Three big players and one little guy are looking out for your best interests. It is a good time to be a consumer. In the past we've seen loads of debacles around Facebook and privacy, and it seems like these guys don't want to make the same mistake.
The most recent protector of your identity is Apple. A few months ago they announced they would no longer allow developers to track your UDID, a unique identifier on your phone. The UDID is essentially an ID on your phone which allows apps to identify you. The problem is your UDID never changes, so Bob's app and Jim's app both call you the same name. Now Bob and Jim can talk about you, they can share your interests with each other, and in the best case, find much better ways to advertise to you. Apple is no longer allowing this practice, and that is definitely for the best.
The next public defender is Google. Although their intent for pushing this on users is double-edged, the 'keyword not provided' issue is an unknown boon to google junkies everywhere. There was a time when webmasters could see everything you typed to find their website on Google. Those days are quickly passing us, as Google now encrypts search keywords for logged in users. This means webmasters can no longer figure out what those users searched for to arrive at their site. This was not a breach of Google security however (unlike Apple), this was them just changing a widely accepted practice. In the end the consumer wins a bit more privacy, and I think that's what is important.
The third company is Yahoo, although they probably aren't considered 'big' anymore. They have announced that they will be implementing a Do Not Track header solution which allows consumers to easily specify preferences for advertising. I don't know how much privacy this will bring to consumers, but it is a step in the right direction.
And finally, there is this chart. There are plenty of cynics and skeptics talking about Duck Duck Go's recent success, but it takes time to build a business and you always have to shake off the haters. That is precisely what DDG is hard at work on. They are working to provide a world of searching that isn't driven by tracking your every movement, your pets name and your favorite ice cream. While their growth may be a drop in the bucket to some, I am sure to DDG it is very significant.
It is nice to see companies acting in our favor, since it seems like they are constantly trying to gouge us, penetrate us, or otherwise exploit our every advertise-able orifice. Here's to them keeping up the trend.
Dev/Code/Hack is a technology and business blog by me, Par Trivedi. I'm a software engineer and I've been writing code and managing teams for over a decade. This blog serves as a way to share thoughts and ideas about the tech/startup community, and also to educate newcomers to software development.