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.
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, DowJones.com and Google. Other unknown trackers are: Gravity.com, Doubleclick.net, Demdex.net, Taboolisyndication.com, w5c.net, Bizographics.com, Revsci.net, Bluekai.com, Scorecardresearch.com and Krxd.net, Imworldwide.com,
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 (imworldwide.com) 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.
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.
West Virginia News
LinkedIn: Jack Swint
WSJ Stories On Third-Party Tacking