Skip to comments.Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block
Posted on 07/21/2014 4:55:16 PM PDT by Theoria
A new kind of tracking tool, canvas fingerprinting, is being used to follow visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.
First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitors Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each users device a number that uniquely identifies it.
Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them.
But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They cant be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus.
The researchers found canvas fingerprinting computer code, primarily written by a company called AddThis, on 5 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Most of the code was on websites that use AddThis social media sharing tools. Other fingerprinters include the German digital marketer Ligatus and the Canadian dating site Plentyoffish. (A list of all the websites on which researchers found the code is here).
Rich Harris, chief executive of AddThis, said that the company began testing canvas fingerprinting earlier this year as a possible way to replace cookies, the traditional way that users are tracked, via text files installed on their computers.
Were looking for a cookie alternative, Harris said in an interview.
Harris said the company considered the privacy implications of canvas fingerprinting before launching the test, but decided this is well within the rules and regulations and laws and policies that we have.
(Excerpt) Read more at propublica.org ...
And people scoff when I call them Socialist Networking sites.
It's quite clear that FR is NOT that same sort of site.
It isn’t a good idea to surf the web with facebook, gmail (google+), ebay or a lot of other sites “logged in”.
Your “facebook” profile is linked to articles of you like or comment on a news item, ebay ads on other sites are now displaying specific items that you once looked at on ebay’s site saying “there’s still time for you to buy this!” (paraphrased), etc.
You are being tracked and your interests logged. You are being market profiled. And as they say, it’s being done (in part) to focus their sales pitch on YOU as a consumer (imagine a political ad that sells a candidate’s positions one way for some users and differently for another user).
Privacy went out the window in the 1980s when telemarketers and junkmailers got Congress to permit the sale of your private information. That file on you keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Makes asking for your “mother’s maiden name” on financial transactions a bit worthless seeing as how everyone has that in your file as well.
Well, there is a clear way to block it... If your browser continuously visited tens of thousands of random websites, all of the real stuff would be in the grass...
“the company considered the privacy implications of canvas fingerprinting before launching the test, but decided this is well within the rules and regulations and laws and policies that we have.”
Well, wasn’t that nice of them to decide that tracking virtually every site a person visits wasn’t a violation of a person’s privacy.
“websites like whitehouse.gov and YouPorn.com”
gee, aren’t those pretty much the same website nowadays?
The one makes me feel dirty, the other is porn...
Only because we have no advertising at all.
But, since our Freepathons take longer and longer to fulfill each quarter, the “No Ad” option may be slipping away here, too.
I already get “personalized” ads at “Commentary” magazine, “National Review Online,” “The Daily Caller,” and the “Drudge Report.”
Humor aside, I note that "blaze.com" is on that list as well, which is no real surprise given that the site has every other manner of annoying pop-ups, mouse-overs, and other adware installed. But "biblegateway.com"? What were they thinking?
which is which?
whitehouse.gov........ like visiting YouPorn.com without the pictures?
Except more disgusting...
EFF Says Its Anti-Tracking Tool Blocks New Form Of Digital Fingerprinting. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/230430/eff-says-its-anti-tracking-tool-blocks-new-form-of.html
According to Ghostery, Google Analytics is hard at work as I view this page. Whether it’s coming from FR or something that’s attached itself to my browser, I don’t know. But when I hit a different page, the warning went away.
It’s only a matter of time till somebody comes up with a browser add on to block this.
I have found AddBlockPlus and Ghostery do a fantastic job of blocking and disrupting tracking sites. Ghostery reports the number of trackers a site is using. I’ve been amazed at the number of sites that use 30+ trackers.
FWIW, FR has just one tracker that I know of, Google Analytics, which is harmless.
I bet NoScript would stop this. There isn’t much that gets around it.
Nothing new. Been around 20+ years.
I agree. This website is very streamlined for what it does.