Tracking The Trackers – Who Tracks You Online? [video]

“Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet.”

In this presentation, Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla Corporation, discusses the subject of privacy on the Web. Even though people would like to believe the Internet is a private place, it is not.

As we surf websites we are being tracked in ways that are not always in accordance with what we would agree if we knew it. Sometimes the tracking is helpful in that it enables websites to recommend book we would like, friends we should connect to or places we would like to see. But often the tracking is being used by companies to build our digital profiles and use it in ways we are not aware of; this field is called: Behavioral Tracking.

This kind of tracking is what triggered the creation of rules and policies being developed in US and Europe. The first country to implement this is UK, through its Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). They recently published the Guidance on the rules on use of cookies and similar technologies. The ICO is the UK’s authority “set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.” According to the document:

The rules in this area are essentially designed to protect the privacy of internet users – even where the information being collected about them is not directly personally identifiable. The changes to the Directive in 2009 were prompted in part by concerns about online tracking of individuals and the use of spyware. These are not rules designed to restrict the use of particular technologies as such, they are intended to prevent information being stored on people’s computers, and used to recognise them via the device they are using, without their knowledge and agreement.

Collusion For Firefox – Discover Who’s Tracking You Online

In order to demonstrate how users are being over tracked, Mr. Kovacs presents Collusion, a new Firefox add-on that allows us to see all the third parties that are tracking our movements across the Web. It shows, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.

Below is a screenshot shared in the presentation that shows how a typical browsing day may look like. The blue dots are websites visited and the red dots are websites not visited that have access to your data.

Tracking Visitors