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Old 12-03-2019, 08:40 PM   #1
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No Place To Hide

The EFF yestoday released a paper on how you are tracked by Big Data, with a focus on third-party trackers, appropriately timed for "Cyber Monday." Here's the overview:

Part 1 breaks down “identifiers,” or the pieces of information that trackers use to keep track of who is who on the web, on mobile devices, and in the physical world. Identifiers let trackers link behavioral data to real people.

Part 2 describes the techniques that companies use to collect those identifiers and other information. It also explores how the biggest trackers convince other businesses to help them build surveillance networks.

Part 3 goes into more detail about how and why disparate actors share information with each other. Not every tracker engages in every kind of tracking. Instead, a fragmented web of companies collect data in different contexts, then share or sell it in order to achieve specific goals.

Finally, Part 4 lays out actions consumers and policy makers can take to fight back. To start, consumers can change their tools and behaviors to block tracking on their devices. Policy makers must adopt comprehensive privacy laws to rein in third-party tracking.
Old 12-06-2019, 08:18 AM   #2
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Very good article. Thank you for uploading it.

I noticed this paragraph concerning conclusions, many times inaccurate, that is a warning bell in my mind.

Despite the abundance of personal information they collect, tracking companies frequently use this data to derive conclusions that are inaccurate or wrong. Behavioral advertising is the practice of using data about a user’s behavior to predict what they like, how they think, and what they are likely to buy, and it drives much of the third-party tracking industry. While behavioral advertisers sometimes have access to precise information, they often deal in sweeping generalizations and “better than nothing” statistical guesses. Users see the results when both uncannily accurate and laughably off-target advertisements follow them around the web. Across the marketing industry, trackers use petabytes of personal data to power digital tea reading. Whether trackers’ inferences are correct or not, the data they collect represents a disproportionate invasion of privacy, and the decisions they make based on that data can cause concrete harm.
As these companies, government agencies, countries, and the local business, gather all of the information that they can, a lot of it can, or cannot, be accurate. Furthermore, decisions made, "inaccurately," can possibly lead to harmful conclusions to the individual that they track.

Last edited by greencedar; 12-06-2019 at 08:19 AM. Reason: grammer
Old 12-06-2019, 01:17 PM   #3
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Red face And...

Here's a somewhat surprising (?) one...
According to Palant, the Avast (owned by AVG -:Jan) extensions, when installed in your browser, track the URL and title of every webpage you visit, and how you got to that page, along with a per-user identifier and details about your operating system and browser version, plus other metadata, and then transmit all that info back to Avast's backend servers. The user identifier is not always sent, according to Palant: it may not be disclosed if you have Avast Antivirus installed.
...AVG bought a company called Jumpshot in 2013, three years before AVG was acquired by Avast, that touts "clickstream data" that includes "100 million global online shoppers and 20 million global app users. Analyze it however you want: track what users searched for, how they interacted with a particular brand or product, and what they bought. Look into any category, country, or domain" – which sounds a lot like the data the Avast and AVG extensions collect.
Avast says it doesn't collect user identifiers, yet according to Palant, the extensions may generate a per-user identifier code, called userid, that's sent with each URL.
Oh! I'm sure we all have one...
Old 12-06-2019, 06:13 PM   #4
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Thank you Frank, great article, and thank you EFF.
Old 12-07-2019, 01:47 AM   #5
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Yes, thanks Frank.

I do have to wonder though, what the "trackers"/etc., think of me when I deliberately structure silly searches, when I need a laugh, so I take advantage of the automatically generated sponsored ads that claim that virtually no matter what I search for, it is sold at some particular store? ;-)

In case you might not be familiar with the practice conducted by some companies through some search engines, I've attached an image of an example.
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