The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published an extensive study of the hidden techniques and methods used by online service providers to collect and monitor our personal information and activities.
Last Monday, as shoppers looted online stores over Cyber Monday, the EFF released "Behind the One-Way Mirror, ”Which describes the supervisory methods used by companies in the background.
The paper discloses too many monitoring methods, such as fingerprinting, the invisible pixel images, social widgets, mobile tracking, and face recognition used by the big tech companies Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, as well as countless data "brokers" for who we are, what we like , where are we going and who are our friends ”.
Third-party monitoring is usually invisible to the naked eye. The code, images, and plugins can contain features that track browsing, activities, markets, visit times, ad engagement, and clicks can link different data sources to create a complete digital profile you yourself.
According to the EFF, for example Facebook uses invisible "conversion pixels" to collect data from third-party sites and to monitor the effectiveness of ads. Google uses location information to track users' visits to regular stores and uses invisible pixel images to track. Smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, collect audio data.
The unique identifiers are the elements that can link our visits to the Internet. With tracking codes, cookies, MAC addresses, usernames, phone numbers, IP addresses or device identifiers, monitoring and detection is a game in the wrong hands.
But the slow accumulation of our data by major technology companies is a cause for serious concern.
"These little points can be combined to form an extremely revealing whole," the EFF said.
"The Trackers collect data from clicks, impressions, taps and cursor movement. They create behavioral profiles that can reveal political beliefs, religion, sexual identity and activity, race and nationality, level of education, income, shopping habits, health status and more. ”
The paper reports that Google is collecting data on more than 80 percent of web traffic. OR advertising is undoubtedly the dominant force behind data collection.
In the corporate sphere, data is valuable and companies dominating the field can leverage information to spread it even further.
"Monopoly companies or near-monopolies can use their market power to build monitoring networks, monitor and outperform their smaller competitors. "They can take advantage of consumers' privacy for their own economic advantage," the EFF said.
The apocalyptic paper also describes the ways in which this can be achieved. The first common method (used extensively by Google and Facebook) is to "push" publishers to install tracking codes, so they can attract more traffic to their businesses.
"Google, Facebook and Amazon operate as third-party ad networks that jointly control two-thirds of the market," the paper said. "This means that publishers who want to monetize their content have a hard time avoiding the ad tracking code of the big tech companies."
Broad surveillance is the privilege of a few companies, which is not conducive to competition, especially when collecting very personal data.
"Privacy is often framed as a matter of personal responsibility, but a huge part of the data circulated is collected illegally, secretly and with impunity. "