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Wall Street Journal Plays Both Sides Of Third-Party Tracking Debate

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WSJ Admonishes Others For Tracking Internet Customers While They Do It Also

Back in July 2010, WSJ published numerous articles how they conducted a comprehensive study assessing and analyzing the broad array of cookies and other surveillance technology that companies are deploying on Internet users. It revealed that the tracking of consumers has grown both far more pervasive and far more intrusive than is realized by all but a handful of people in the vanguard of the industry.

But, what The Wall Street Journal failed to mention in their story is that even now in June 2012, they still allow third party tracking companies to access, store and use your information each time that you view their online news website. In fact, they are one of the worst. We counted 44 third party companies secretly monitoring WSJ readers while they are online. Ironically, they allow the same trackers that the WSJ admonished for using this technology. Facebook, Twitter and Google to name just a few.

Using the new "Collusion" tracking program from Mozilla, we accessed the WSJ website and found third-party tracking of Americans for their personal information about finances, health, relationships, interests, birthdays, preferences, address, occupation, age and more. How bad is this problem? WSJ noted in one of their numerous related articles (linked below) that lawmakers and regulators are trying to do more to address consumer concerns about the difficulty of removing personal data permanently from websites that collect it and make it available for background checks and other uses.

Tracking The Wall Street Journal

When first accessing the WSJ main-page of their website using "Collusion," 13 third party- trackers immediately show up including well-known companies Facebook, and Google. Other unknown trackers are:,,,,,,,, and,,

When clicking onto their lead story above the fold, 5 more trackers appear including well-known companies, and By the time we clicked onto several ads and other stories of interest, a total of 44 trackers showed up on the "Collusion" programs screen. According to Mozilla, their program identifies these trackers who the WSJ has knowledge of and permission to monitor, track and store your information. Most of these tracking company claim they are collecting information from IP Addresses, Flash and Browser Cookies. And the average amount of time they keep records is up to12 months.

Even though there are boundaries of what information is forbidden to be tracked, (including no use of gov't IDs, financial and insurance numbers, current location or health info) some trackers like PointRoll and Nielsen ( state they may use all information collected including personal and sensitive. Most of the WSJ tracker websites offer up a statement claiming that your information is anonymous, but they contradict themselves by writing" "This company does not confirm that it honors Do Not Track." Some also provide you with an "opt out" to keep your information from being accessed by their company.

But, unless you already knew that company is obtaining your info, there is no way for you to know of any opt out ability. And, after all of their claims and disclaimers, these companies admit they do not verify if tracking is indeed stopped if you request it.

Not all tracking is bad. Many services rely on user data to provide relevant content and enhance your online experience. But most tracking happens without users' consent and without their knowledge. That's not okay. It should be you who decides when, how and if you want to be tracked. The concept behind the tracking we investigated is to take your information, which then affects which online advertising you are served up, which credit card offers you are presented with, while also creating a profile of you with both correct and incorrect assumptions based on these connections.

In closing"

On one hand, the Wall Street Journal publicly admonished companies who promote and or allow third-party trackers gaining access to our information while on the Internet. Yet, on the other hand they themselves participate in this very same practice.

The concept behind the tracking we investigated is to take your information, which then affects which online advertising you are served up, which credit card offers you are presented with, while also creating a profile of you with both correct and incorrect assumptions based on these connections.

End Of Story

Jack Swint-Publisher
West Virginia News
Twitter:  @WVNewsOnline
LinkedIn: Jack Swint


WSJ Stories On Third-Party Tacking

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I am the publisher of an online news website and blog covering local, state and national news since 2007. Author of 4 cold-case murder books in the "Who Killed?" series published by Rooftop Publishing Company. Retired from mainstream media in 2007 (more...)
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