Australians most vulnerable to online stalking by companies: Report

Australians, who are among the world's heaviest Internet users, are most exposed to being tracked online by companies after hunting their personal information, a report has warned.

The report by the Centre for Internet Safety, associated with the University of Canberra, has called for greater privacy protection for Australians through laws to give them a choice in what personal data is collected online and what it can be used for.

According to the Age, Internet companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google provide free services, but make billions of dollars each year by selling users' information to other companies, including custom advertisers.

Centre director Alastair MacGibbon, a former cybercrime expert with the Australian Federal Police and eBay, said everybody who used the internet was being tracked by a vast number of companies, unless they went out of their way to avoid it, the report said.

MacGibbon said that anything that their firm typed into the internet was collected, indexed and collated without our knowledge, and then stored forever on servers overseas, it added.

He said that simply deleting an online account like Facebook does not mean that the information is removed.

According to the report, MacGibbon said laws in other countries also required companies to tell people when information about them was lost, but not here.

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