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Todays internet ads mostly using tracking tech with cookies, to collect data from internet user to get their interest, and then send ads to them based on this collected interest.

This ads is very much personal, it's on point (not just random ads), because its cookies is always following you collecting data. A lot of people consider this breach of privacy.

Is this halal or haram?

I'm planning to use FB ads to sell items using its ads, which also using tracking tech similar to what I mentioned above.

  • There is no ijtehad on the subject. Many modern scholars consider it to be a form of spying. Companies most often only prompt with a generic notification that will be collecting data through cookies but never go into specifics. Even the EU recently passed a resolution a couple years back asking the companies to be more transparent. – Ahmed Mar 2 at 8:39
  • How about this: you can't get inside people's house without permission, you can't even peek in to it, but FB isn't exactly yours, it's up to FB to do what they want to, users already give their permission when using this platform, whether they read the T&C or not. User don't own FB, even if you're actually have shares/stock at FB, you already give its control to its CEO. – somuch72 Mar 2 at 9:19
  • Let's say you rent a house and the landlord has installed hidden CCTV in the house. They can be anywhere, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the kitchen.. you just don't know where they are. It's not your house, you are just using it to stay. You may have even given the landlord permission to secretly record you in the lease contract in the fineprint but you haven't read it. Do you think, the landlord is morally right? – Ahmed Mar 3 at 6:36
  • Your analogy is great, the landlord is worng, but FB today is better at providing T&C, By clicking Sign Up, you agree to our Terms, Data Policy and Cookies Policy.... You can clearly see data policy and cookies policy they not just group them in single term and policy prntscr.com/raq9e1. If my landlord give me contract with cover page saying contract policy, privacy policy... I would defo check it. FB not even trying to make it complicated to find that they collect your data. On data policy, you dont need to scroll that they collect it. – somuch72 Mar 3 at 7:57
  • I want to add, spying in public for good thing is okay, Umar did it to Abu Bakr. I'm not saying FB tracking is good, but it's not bad either. FB is public space, they put the tracking on their TC clearly and easily readable. You can blame person who don't read it, seriously. Doing something without knowing what it is is bad, in Islam this is clear rule. I've never read the TC, but I'm tech savvy and I know what they'll do. Even if they do more than what I expect but it's on their rule, I'll blame myself. Cambridge Anlytc? It's FB's wrong, I don't use it for such thing, I use it to sell goods. – somuch72 Mar 3 at 8:45
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With my limited knowledge I want to answer my own question after took sometimes thinking and learning about it. Please read it until the end and help me broaden the answer.

Tracking cookies is closely related to privacy/spying, my answer here mostly and specifically for tracking cookies for ads.

In Islam, privacy is an important matter. Spying is infringing other people's privacy. To make it easier, there are 2 kinds of spying in Islam, at war, which is allowed because it's a strategy, and at peace. I will only talk about privacy/spying at peace.

Hadith about spying:

It is also narrated in al-Saheehayn from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the falsest of speech. Do not eavesdrop; do not spy on one another; do not envy one another; do not forsake one another; do not hate one another. Be, O slaves of Allah, brothers.” -- Al-Bukhaari, 5144; Muslim, 2563.

Narrated Anas: A man peeped into one of the dwelling places of the Prophet. The Prophet got up and aimed a sharp-edged arrow head (or wooden stick) at him to poke him stealthily. -- Sahih Bukhari 9:83:38

Narrated Abu Huraira: Abul Qasim said, "If any person peeps at you without your permission and you poke him with a stick and injure his eye, you will not be blamed." -- Sahih Bukhari 9:83:39

Islam schoolar about spying:

Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Some of the scholars said that tahassus [‘eavesdropping’] means listening to other people’s conversations, and tajassus [‘spying’] means seeking out their faults. Or it was suggested that tajassus means looking for secrets. The word is mostly used in the sense of evil. The jaasoos (spy) is the one who seeks out secrets for evil purposes and the naamoos is the one who seeks out secrets for good purposes. And it was said that tajassus means looking for information for someone else, and tahassus means looking for information for oneself. This was the view of Tha’lab. And it was said that they mean one and the same, which is seeking out information about people’s circumstances.”

From what I gathered, spying is forbidden if it's for bad intention, spying other people secret, and spying in private place. The keyword here is bad intention, secret, and private place.

Here's the story of Umar spying Abu Bakr for good, and it's in public.

Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) used to check the condition of Abu Bakr after the Fajr (Dawn) Salah, and he used to offer the Fajr Salah then get out of the Masjid to go to one of the suburbs of Medina everyday. He asked himself: What makes him go to that suburb everyday?

One day he followed him until he reached a far-away tent, and when Abu Bakr got out, Umar entered to find an old blind woman with her two young children. Umar said to her: O servant of Allah, who are you?

She said: I am an old blind woman in this tent I live with my two daughters whose father died and left us without support.

`Umar said: Who was that old man who came to visit you? She did not know that he was Abu Bakr. She said: He is an old man whom I do not know, and used to come everyday to sweep our tent, make breakfast for us, and milk our goats. Thereupon, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) wept and said: You have burdened caliphs after you Abu Bakr.

This is a well known story, the quote above is from http://en.alukah.net/Shariah/0/6446/

Now about tracking cookies, this is a tracking tech that gathering info from people that visiting websites in order to sell ads.

I have few things to say about this:

  1. You go to store browsing shirts left and right, and the store attendant watching you, then after a while offering you a shirt that you might like based on the shirts you browse around. Is this okay?

  2. You go to a market, bargaining about item that you'd like to buy (item A), you can't find agreement in stall A, you go to stall B, still can't find agreement, a nearby stall C see this and call you to check his item A. Is this not okay?

  3. Islam instruct its follower not to act without knowledge. You have to have knowledge about what you're going to do. A lot of ayah and hadith about this.

A lot of people using internet without learning its basic. They don't know a lot of things what internet can do. If they learn about internet 101, they sure will know about tracking cookies.

Even if those people didn't read about internet 101 because it's already daily living, at least read some article about internet itself. Islam instruct us to be smart!

  1. Today's websites, especially in my case FB, have easy to read and understand terms stating that they collect data from it's users. You don't need to read dozens of pages to find this statement, and it's written with layman term. Other websites today also have easier privacy policy guidance, some even have pop up privacy policy.

You don't need to read about it each time because they typically simiar. They all college data. If you concerned about it, at least read it. Islam instruct people to know about what to do.

So can I get sin if I track people on internet without them knowing even after a lot of internet 101 guideline can be found, after a lot of news about internet, after websites providing privacy policy? May Allah سبحانه وتعالى give me mercy if I'm wrong, I think it's those people's wrong instead, not my wrong.

  1. People paying for internet might forget that they actually paying for its connection, not its content. Free articles that they read and free websites that they visit have their own owner that actually have their own term and condition if they wish to read or use it.

  2. People complaining about privacy on internet because transition from paper based text to internet (or comparing between the two). Paper can't do a lot of thing, but this is different. Internet isn't just text on the monitor. A lot of things are happening behind that text.

  3. People might forget that browsing internet in real life private place doesn't mean also private in internet.

  4. People who knows about tracking cookies and complaining about it, they have choice not to use websites that tracking them, yeah, they have to read a lot of term and conditions and privacy policy.

If they know and still using that websites, can I be blamed? I don't think so.

People crying about privacy on internet I think because:

a. It's not just for tracking cookies for ads, but also spying on matter that actually said private on internet.

b. The fact that a lot of government trying to ban encryption.

c. The fact that a lot of government have backdoor to internet users private data.

d. People know that they being tracked on internet, they have 2 choices: stop using internet but no alternative or the alternative is bad, or keep using internet with them being tracked. This is the situation why they complaining a lot.

  1. FB is social media, it's a public space. And about tracking on their messenger, it's on their T&C

  2. If the company (web owner etc) do something bad with their tracking cookies, and I'm using tracking cookies for ads (as statd on their term), am I wrong too? I think this is different think, a separate think.

TLDR: It's okay to use tracking cookies for ads with how it's used today. May Allah سبحانه وتعالى give me mercy if I'm wrong

Please comment this below or answer the question with a new one. Thanks

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Is advertising with tracking cookies halal or haram?

It depends on the content of the advertising, and the network itself; for example:

a. if you were advertising hard-core porn, it would be haram

b. if the network was known for surveillance and controlling minds, it would be haram.

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  • a. the advertised goods is totally halal. b. it will be FB ads. How about how the information gathered from users? Can this be considered as tajasus? Internet is considered as public space and almost all websites already have written statement in their policy that they tracking users. And also this is not for bad intention. Tajasus in Al Hujurat 12 in my language (Indonesian) means spying to find others fault. While in English mostly simply spying, only a few that mentioning about finding others fault. I'm confused! – somuch72 Mar 7 at 17:40

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