Online Privacy

on Thursday, August 19, 2010

A series of recent articles by Julia Angwin and others in the Wall Street Journal about online privacy revealed some disturbing practices. They used a clean computer to visit the 50 most popular websites in the US, accounting for roughly 40% of web traffic.

The 50 site visits installed a total of 3,180 tracking files.

About a third of these were rather innocuous "cookies," text files that might store a username or account details. Fully two-thirds, however, came from 131 companies that follow Internet users to create databases of consumer profiles that can then be sold. The companies that placed the most such tools were Google, Microsoft, and Quantcast Corp, all of which are in the business of targeting ads at people online.

The worst offender?, which installed a stunning 168 tracking tools that didn't let users decline to be tracked.

The only site to install no tracking files? Wikipedia.

The series of four articles are linked below.

What They Know

Sites Feed Personal Details To New Tracking Industry

On the Web's Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only

The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets


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