May 2012 Web Privacy Measurement


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Conference on Web Privacy Measurement (WPM)

May 31-June 1, 2012
Hosted by the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology
Bancroft Hotel, Berkeley, California


Nick Doty, UC Berkeley School of Information
Chris Jay Hoofnagle
, UC Berkeley Law
Jonathan Mayer
, Stanford Computer Science and Law

The Emergence of Web Privacy Measurement

As the Web continues to transition from a static collection of documents to an application platform, websites are learning more and more about users. Many forms of Web information sharing pose little privacy risk and provide tremendous benefit to both consumers and businesses. But some Web information practices pose significant privacy problems and have caused concern among consumers, policymakers, advocates, researchers, and others. Data collection is now far more complex than HTTP cookies, and the information available to websites can include a user’s name, contact details, sensitive personal information, and even real-time location. At present there are few restrictions on and scant transparency in Web information practices. There is a growing chasm between what society needs to know about Web tracking and what the privacy measurement community has been able to bring to light.

A number of practitioners, researchers, and advocates have begun to more formally study how websites collect, use, and share information about their users. The goal of the Conference on Web Privacy Measurement (WPM) is to advance the state of the art and foster a community on how to detect, quantify, and analyze Web information vectors across the desktop and mobile landscapes. Such vectors include browser tracking, such as cookies, flash cookies, the geolocation API, microphone API, and camera API; and server-side tracking, such as browser fingerprinting. We are also interested in the deployment of privacy-preserving technologies, such as HTTPS and proper deployment of P3P. Much work needs to be done in this field. At WPM, we will focus on topics including:

  • How do we standardize measurement terminology and methods to facilitate building on each other’s work?
  • How can we measure the use of personal information once it has been collected?
  • What tools are available for measurement? Are there opportunities for developing collaborative open-source projects or sharing measurement data?
  • Which tracking technologies are possible? Which have been deployed?
  • Are researchers studying the right tracking technologies? How can we tell? How can researchers detect and react to shifts in tracking vectors?
  • What should be the ethics of measurement, including responsible disclosure and terms of service breaches?
  • How can we measure the effectiveness of privacy-preserving personalization technologies?
  • How can measurements be most effectively communicated to users and other stakeholders?


Web Privacy Measurement is a two-day conference. The first day, May 31, is invitation-only and is now fully booked.  The second day, June 1, is open to the public. WPM will be held at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley, California. No proceedings will be published.

Program Committee

Edward W. Felten, Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at the Princeton University
Nathan Good, Chief Scientist and Principal of Good Research
Samy Kamkar, Security Researcher
Balachander Krishnamurthy, Scientist, AT&T Labs–Research
Aleecia McDonald, Senior Privacy Researcher, Mozilla
Ashkan Soltani, Independent Researcher
Rob van Eijk, Internet Technology Expert, Dutch Data Protection Authority
Rigo Wenning, Legal Counsel, W3C
Craig Wills, Professor, Computer Science Department Worcester Polytechnic Institute