Web Privacy Census Shows Tracking Pervasive

by James Temple, San Francisco Chronicle


UC Berkeley researchers will unveil a first-of-its-kind tool Tuesday for measuring online tracking of consumers over time.

The team has established the Web Privacy Census, a process for surveying top websites each quarter to evaluate the amount and kind of monitoring under way. The goal is to create benchmarks to accurately evaluate the shifting methods of Internet marketers, ideally enabling a better informed debate over privacy policy.

The census primarily serves as a baseline for comparison with future surveys. But even on its own, the report highlights the almost dizzying amount of online tracking that occurs.

Internet marketers frequently place tracking cookies and similar software onto consumers' computers to observe their online behavior for the purpose of targeting ads and content.