Ever wonder what happens to the data generated from all that Internet surfing and all those searches conducted through search engines such as Yahoo, Google and Ask.com? Is the data destroyed after logging off? Is it kept? For how long? Is it used and, if so, how and by whom?

An increasing number of Americans have recently become aware that much of this data is indeed being kept and used to target advertising to them in a more precise manner, based on their interests as evidenced in their surfing and search activities — a practice known generally as behavioral advertising. But is this lawful? If so, is it appropriate?

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