An investigation by the Wall Street Journal found that many of the largest websites in the U.S. are installing technologies on the computers of visitors - sometimes tracking them in over a hundred ways.
The Journal examined the 50 most popular websites in the United States in order to see what the sites were doing to track users. The fifty websites installed cookies other tracking technologies, with only one, Wikipedia, failing to install any. Some used Beacon, a controversial Facebook Ads technology that reports the activities of Facebook users on other websites. Some sites installed more than a hundred tools and tracking files. The Journal examined their own site, WSJ.com and found it installed 60 tracking files on a user's computer.
Tracking files can be tricky to find or eliminate. Some re-create previously erased tracking files. while others collect data down to the keystroke level. Data gathered by the websites included age, gender, race, zip code and income, as well as even more specific information such as recently watched movies or purchases. Because names are not recorded, advertisers defend the collection of such data as anonymous.
Personal data has become a booming Internet business, as data about people's interests, activities, and shopping patterns changes hands, allowing advertisers to target their marketing with pinpoint precision. The websites of Google, Microsoft and Quantcast, all of which use such data to formulate their online marketing strategies, were the three sites which installed the most tools.
Regulations regarding tracking technologies are scarce. The Federal Trade Commission has been tasked with developing privacy guidelines. On July 27, 2010, it testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, about its efforts.
Edited 6 Years Ago by WASDted: n/a