- “Third-party websites”, “widget”, clickjacking”, “pseudonymous”, “disaggreating”, “web tracking”.
- “Web tracking” can be explained as the activity of a website using certain methods in order to gain and record data from anyone who visits a website. This can be done via the use of “cookies” which essentially track a user’s movements on a website – for example, what they click on, what they comment on, etc.
- “Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology”, a paper written by Jonathan R. Mayer and John C. Mitchell mainly discusses the issue of privacy when first party websites allow third-party websites to obtain information from their users. Third party websites help first party websites by assisting them in combining social media and advertising, as well as the use of analytics. The paper explains the methods of web tracking third-party websites use, and the on going privacy issues; such as the information that a user provides that can reveal their the page “…location, interests, purchases, employment status…” (Mayer and Mitchell, 2012, p.415), and many more intrusive and personal details about their life. The paper also mentions how when asked, many users (around 87%) said they would prefer to have no tracked advertising, as well as examining the “opt-out” choices users have if they do not want to be tracked – such as adblocking softwares and “opt-out cookies”, however these cookies are still vulnerable to the influence of third-party websites.
- Mayer and Mitchell address the issue of privacy via the use of gathering users’ data throughout their paper. Privacy concerns seem to have been a constant and ever on going debate in the world of online advertising and there is always a persistent concern that private and intimate data could be exposed. Looking at the extremely controversial case of the Ashley Madison data leak in 2015, this caused heartbreak and anger for thousands of people across America. Ashley Madison was a website designed for married couples to find a partner to have an affair with. In the summer of 2015, information regarding its users was leaked onto the worldwide we by a third-party, exposing many women and men of their untruthful ways. Information regarding the users choices, names, sexual preference, were all revealed. When accessing Ashley Madison in 2016, the site emphasizes that the users data will not 100% private, with no issues or a possible data leak again. A more controversial example of a data leak could be Hillary Clinton’s emails, containing confidential information regarding her plans for a campaign, a donation from the King of Morocco of $12 million to try and entice Clinton to the summit, as well as wanting to intervene in Syria’s current civil war without anyone’s knowledge.
- Many questions can be asked after studying this paper. One question that comes to mind is whether will the increase of sensitive and personal data from users perhaps increase the risk of data leakage due to the expansion of valuable information, as more third-party websites would like access to this information?