Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tracking technology is getting smarter and more intrusive

An Online Tracking Service That Can’t Be Dodged:

Researchers at U.C. Berkeley have discovered that some of the net’s most popular sites are using a tracking service that can’t be evaded -- even when users block cookies, turn off storage in Flash, or use browsers’ “incognito” functions.

The service, called KISSmetrics, is used by sites to track the number of visitors, what the visitors do on the site, and where they come to the site from -- and KISSmetrics says it does a more comprehensive job than its competitors such as Google Analytics.

The research was published Friday, July 29, 2011 by a team UC Berkeley privacy researchers that includes veteran privacy lawyer Chris Hoofnagle and noted privacy researcher Ashkan Soltani.

It is possible, the researchers say, for any two sites using KISSmetrics to compare their databases and ask things like “Hey, what do you know about user 345627?” and the other site could say “his name is John Smith and his email address is and he likes these kinds of things.”

Click here to down the research paper (2 MB pdf file) of the Berkeley researchers, read it and see what you think!

For additional insight into the tracking ecosystem, see the article "The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets" in The Wall Street Journal" of July 30, 2011.

{ Click on the image above for a larger view }

And, of course, if you’re using a GPS enabled smartphone, they can add where you are now and where you’ve been to the info about you that they’re collecting . . . including where you live.