More than 80% of Internet user dislike the tracking of their online behavior. But tracking is expanding more and more. Popular Web sites are far more aggressive in their tracking practices.
More Elements on Popular Websites
The project Web Privacy Census of University of California is watching the state of internet tracking and privacy over years. An increasing usage of tracking features was documented. For an example we want to show only the usage of cookies by the 100 most popular websites:
||Numbers of cookies
The project observed statistically significant increases in the amount of usage of sophisticated HTML5 features like DOMstorage and other EverCookies for tracking. 38% of popular websites were using EverCookies techniques in Oct. 2012. EverCookies are not easy to manage and remove by users like third-party cookies.
Because it is easy to block third-party content with modern browser more third-party aggregators are working to hide their presence in a first-party site by serving content from what are or appear to be first party servers. This approach makes it very difficult to block tracking scripts by advertising blocker. For an example you may have a look at the easy to use tracking plug-ins offered by Webtrekk for blogs, content management systems and shops.
Some tracking services doesn't use markers like cookies or EverCookies but only browser fingerprinting for surfer recognition. The demonstration project Panopticlick featured out, that more than 80% of browser have a unique fingerprint. The recognition rate increases to 94% if Flash or Java plug-ins were enabled. (How Unique Is Your Web Browser PDF). Tracking services are using more sophisticated methods and achieve 30% higher recognition rates than cookies based approaches. Other tracking services are using browser information, screen size and other values additionally for user recognition.
An increasing number of websites is using more than one tracking service. An example is the webshop Zalando. It uses the following tracking and advertiesment services: 36YIELD, ADSCALE, APPNEXUS, ATDMT, ATEMDA, CRITED, DEMDEX, DOUBLECLICK, FACEBOOK, METRIGO, OPENX, PUBMATIC, ADSERVER, SOCIOMANTIC, YIELDLAB und YIELDMANAGER.
Decreasing number of independent tracking companies
A number of families of domains and tracking services have been created through acquisition of many companies by some global player. The families are sharing collected data and achieve a large coverage of popular websites.
The larges family is Google and associated companies. The earnings of these family are 44% of the world-wide online advertising market. During the last years Google bought the following companies:
|2007||DoubleClick + falkad.net|
Because of this acquisitions tracking features of the Google family are present on more and more popular websites:
||Tracking features of the Google family
||present on 7% of popular websites
||present on 16% of popular websites
||present on 55% of popular websites
||present on 80% of popular websites
||present on 97% of popular websites
Other tracking families are the Overture network, Microsoft and the Yahoo! family, each with a portion of 3-8% of the world-wide online advertising market. The new cooperation of Facebook with BlueKai and Epsilon is the start of a new large tracking family.
Using of Real World Data
The tracking of our online behavior offers only an incomplete view on our interests. First steps are taken by Facebook to include real world data in profiling for proper online advertisements. A cooperation with Axciom and Datalogix was announced in February. Both databrokers operate big databases with real wold data like creditcard payments, loyalty cards at supermarkets and product warranty cards and so on.
If the information flow increased in both direction, our online activities may get more influence of our real live. A year ago Sarah Downey warns:
The harms of online tracking are real and growing. This isn't about targeted advertising, like the ad industry wants everyone to believe. This is about the collection and use of your personal information in ways you can't even imagine.
Today our online activities may decide about getting a new job or may have an influence on assurance taxes. Personally I know 3 cases of including private online activities to check job applicants by personnel managers. In one case the result was positive. In two cases the applicants were rejected mainly (but not only) because of this data.