You leave a digital footprint every time you use the internet and companies use website tracking tools to collect your personal data. Internet tracking is a widespread practice and digital privacy is becoming an increasing concern for many people.
In a recent survey, 67% of internet users worldwide said they are more concerned about their online privacy than they’ve ever been and 86% have tried to remove their personal data from the internet.
This blog will tell you everything you need to know about website tracking. Learn how browser cookies and fingerprinting techniques follow your online activity, along with the best ways to use the web without being tracked.
Website tracking goes by various names including internet tracking, browser tracking, web tracking, and cookie tracking. Tracking is the method of collecting, storing, and analyzing user browsing activity across the internet.
Web tracking is most often done through tracking cookies or browser fingerprinting. We will discuss these concepts in more detail further down.
Various companies track your behaviour online and non-private search engines like Google also play a key role in internet tracking.
Ghostery has been building the world’s largest tracker database: WhoTracks.Me. Our goal is to bring transparency to the web by exposing who collects, analyzes, and sells user data online for profit.
Ghostery’s anti-tracking technology detects website trackers and tracking information is then reported and published on WhoTracks.Me. The reported information is strictly related to the observed trackers and never includes information about users. This data is used to continuously refine Ghostery’s algorithm which enhances the protection we offer to all our users.
You can also use a tool like Ghostery’s Trackers Preview Wheel to identify tracker heavily-loaded sites and make informed decisions when browsing or searching while using non-private search engines. This feature is part of Ghostery’s Privacy Suite and aims to bring transparency to online tracking.
Most of your web activity and web browsing history can be tracked. This includes:
MIT Press explains how “data tracking was initially conducted with the goal of offering personalized experiences to web users. This included individually targeted marketing, custom news feeds, and recommended products.”
Nowadays, website tracking is commonly used for profiling purposes and data trackers play a crucial role in the online economy. Google is the world’s largest data tracker and the platform made roughly 209.49 billion US dollars in ad revenue in 2021 alone.
You can read this article by MIT Press if you want to learn more about the history of data tracking.
Companies use two main types of internet tracking technologies to collect your data online: cookie tracking and fingerprinting.
Records show that internet cookies were invented by Lou Montulli in 1994. Tracking cookies are text files that store small amounts of information from a web browser session on a website. This information can then be accessed by the user, the site they are on, or third-party companies.
Cookies can track many types of data such as search and browser history, what web pages you click on, and your browsing behavior such as your scrolling speed.
Tracking cookies were introduced to streamline and enhance browsing experiences. For instance, cookies can autofill your login details and remember what was in your shopping cart if you accidentally close the web page.
Browser fingerprinting is a specialist type of internet tracking that is more intrusive than regular cookie tracking. It allows companies to build a unique user profile and identify you on the internet among millions of other internet users.
Companies use special scripts to collect information such as your default language, timezone, plugins in your browser, and many other active settings. The aim is to collect enough information about you to build a unique profile.
Check out this article by Mozilla if you want to learn more about browser fingerprinting.
There are plenty of actions you can take to prevent browser tracking and protect your personal data online. Here are some of the best ways to browse the internet safely:
Ghostery offers a complete Privacy Suite with a solution to serve every use case. If you don’t want to change your browser to a non-tracking browser, you can install the Ghostery browser extension on all popular browsers to prevent tracking and improve your digital privacy.
In summary, the Ghostery browser extension:
Ghostery is one of the most advanced ad and tracker blockers on the market today. Our browser extension is equipped with AI technology which prevents website tracking to improve your digital privacy and browsing experience.
The Ghostery browser extension also provides insights about internet trackers on web pages to improve transparency and raise awareness about data tracking.
Ghostery is compatible with all major web browsers and devices including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera and Safari.
Download the Ghostery Privacy Suite if you want to prevent website tracking, improve your digital privacy, and enhance your browsing experience. Get in touch with our friendly team if you have any questions.