Ghostery Study: 79 Percent of Websites Globally Are Secretly Tracking Your Personal Data

A study by Ghostery, a provider of free software that makes your web browsing experience cleaner, faster and safer, and its parent company Cliqz, which specializes in building revolutionary technologies for private browsing and search, today revealed that trackers that collect data on internet users’ online behavior are present on at least 79 percent of websites (unique domains) globally.Web tracking has become so pervasive that approximately ten percent of websites send the data they’ve collected to ten or more different companies (unique tracker domains). In terms of web traffic, 15 percent of all page loads on the internet are monitored by ten or more trackers. According to the study, tracking scripts from Google (60.3 percent of page loads) and Facebook (27.1 percent) are the most prevalent; however, Ghostery identified thousands of other tracking scripts that put internet users’ privacy at risk and dramatically slow the average page load time.

“Not only is it a significant burden on CPU and network resources to load scripts from all these different parties, but there is also little transparency about what is being shared and with whom,” said Jeremy Tillman, Director of Product at Ghostery. “Users are increasingly turning to privacy tools, like Ghostery, to inform themselves about who is tracking on each page and allow them to ‘opt-out’ as they wish.”

The Effects of Tracking on Internet Users Globally

 Other points of interest from the study include:

  • The U.S., Russia and U.K. have more trackers per page load than the global average, while Germany, France and India have fewer.
  • The advertising supply chain represents the vast majority of tracking companies, and the fact that many networks load each other into pages during ad loading contributes significantly to high tracker counts on pages.
  • Most of the major tracking companies originate from the U.S. yet are global in reach.

“In today’s advertising-driven internet ecosystem, it’s ad tech and tracking companies that determine how websites look and how fast they load,” said Tillman. “Internet users are looking for ways to take back control of their web experience. Installing anti-tracking tools is one way for them to stop trackers from spying on their web activity.”

Download the full study here.

Ghostery 8 Helps Consumers Reclaim their Personal Data
It remains to be seen if the increase in anti-tracking behavior will lead to a change in the pervasiveness of tracking, but new developments in online privacy are making it easier than ever to prevent tracking scripts from collecting data of user’s online behavior. Ghostery today released Ghostery 8, the newest version of its popular browser extension for privacy protection.

Equipped with new default settings and a simplified user interface that makes it easy for everybody to protect their privacy and regain control over their data, Ghostery 8 combines the best of blocklist and AI-powered anti-tracking technologies to set a new bar in privacy protection. Ghostery 8 is free to download for many popular browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Cliqz, Edge, Opera and Yandex.

Methodology of Ghostery/Cliqz StudyThis is the largest online tracking study of its kind, encompassing the internet activity of 850,000 internet users internationally across 440 million page loads. The data was collected by the Ghostery browser extension’s GhostRank feature and covers all major browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Edge,  Opera, and the Ghostery Privacy Browser for iOS and Android).