UC Berkeley Web Census Shows That Internet Users Are Constantly Tracked

By Sohan Shah, The Daily Californian


A survey released Tuesday by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology found that a majority of popular websites employ some sort of tracking technology in order to monitor their users.

According to the report accompanying the Web Privacy Census, the main goal of the May 17 census, “is to define and quantify vectors for tracking consumers on the internet.” The report was the first in a planned series of ongoing quarterly censuses.

Data was collected from the top 100, 1,000 and 25,000 most popular websites, according to Quantcast, which measures web audiences. The census found that all of the top 100 websites install cookies on users’ computers.

Essentially, cookies allow websites to place software onto users’ computers, and this could potentially include tracking software. Websites generally use these tracking methods for advertising purposes.

The census was conducted by Nathan Good, chief scientist and principal of Good Research, and Chris Jay Hoofnagle, director of information privacy programs at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. The effort was aided by Abine, Inc., a company that helps consumers protect their web privacy.