A report by The Markup, a nonprofit foundation for investigative journalism, says that at least 87% of the world’s most popular web domains practice some form of digital tracking, even without the user logging in.
The report, published by The Washington Post, found that many of them covertly record the way the mouse is moved or words are typed. This is the hidden technology that allows companies to know who you are, what you like and even the secrets they search for online, so you can personalize what you see, target you with ads, or even sell your information to others.
The newspaper says that you can perform a privacy check on any site yourself using a free tool dedicated to this purpose, which is called “Blacklight”.
Blacklight was developed by engineer and journalist Surya Mattu, who was not only aiming to stop intrusion on websites, but wanted to develop a tool to find out exactly what was happening when visiting sites using the Google Chrome browser.
Earlier this month, Mato turned Blacklight into a list of the 100,000 most popular domains on the web, and he scanned more than 80,000 to show him the grim picture of the tracking.
It was found that only 13% of the sites did not download any ad tracking tools or third-party cookies, which are a set of code that the sites leave in your browser to identify you.
And 15% of websites have downloaded a technology called “session recorder”, which is the digital equivalent of recording videos while you browse the site, as described by a technology provider.
74% of the sites also downloaded Google’s tracking technology, while it was found that 33% of the tracking sites used Facebook technology, and with this technology they can track you even when you do not use their websites or applications.
“I think this is just a reflection of how businesses operate when they go unchecked,” Mato said. “I don’t think there is a very evil person sitting somewhere trying to collect everyone’s information, there is an economic incentive to get this data, and over the past 15 years, This incentive has increased. “
Blacklight is not the ideal or the only measure of privacy, technology is evolving and it is like a game of cat and mouse with companies that develop tracking technology. But the hope is that Mark Up will update its audit every year, so that we can track how the web changes as more people become concerned about privacy, and new privacy laws try to block tracking.
Black Light and results from known sites
As of Thursday, Biden’s website used 10 times fewer third-party cookies, compared to US President Donald Trump’s Black Light website.
Microsoft had 43 third-party cookies, and “Apple” did not have anything, as it does not use any tracking technology at all, according to Black Light.
The Washington Post contains 6 third-party cookies, and it allows Google Analytics to track you, but does not contain Facebook tracking tools, according to Black Light.
The New York Times had 12 followers, The Wall Street Journal 44, and The New Yorker had 152.
Browser change protection
The report recommends making a simple change, which is replacing the Chrome browser from Google to another that includes automatic protection, such as Mozilla Firefox, and Safari from Apple, and the new version of Microsoft Edge. ).
But if you cannot do without Chrome, or you have to use it at work, there are additional components to block ads and block tracking on Chrome that can help you when adding them, for example “Privacy Badger” and “Ghostery” .