People Innovation Excellence

You’re Being Tracked (and Tracked and Tracked) on the Web

The number of third parties sending information to and receiving data from popular websites each time you visit them has increased dramatically in the past 20 years, which means that visitors to those sites may be more closely watched by major corporations and advertisers than ever before, according to a new analysis of Web tracking.

A team from the University of Washington reviewed two decades of third-party requests by using Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. They found a four-fold increase in the number of requests logged on the average website from 1996 to 2016, and say that companies may be using these requests to more frequently track the behavior of individual users. They presented their findings at the USENIX Security Conference in Austin, Texas, earlier this month.

The authors—Adam Lerner and Anna Kornfeld Simpson, who are both PhD candidates, along with collaborators Tadayoshi Kohno and Franziska Roesner—found that popular websites make an average of four third-party requests in 2016, up from less than one in 1996. However,…[Read more]


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