Electronic Frontier Foundation: As news websites around the globe are publishing story after story about dragnet surveillance, these news sites all have one thing in common: when you visit these websites, your personal information is broadcast to dozens of companies, many of which have the ability to track your surfing habits, and many of which are subject to government data requests.
How Does This Happen?
Why Does This Matter?
Each time your browser makes a request it sends the following information with it:
- Your IP address and the exact time of the request
- User-Agent string: which normally contains the web browser you’re using, your browser’s version, your operating system, processor information (32-bit, 64-bit), language settings, and other data
- Referrer: the URL of the website you’re coming from—in the case of the Facebook Like button example, your browser tells Facebook which website you’re viewing
- Other HTTP headers which contain potentially identifying information
- Sometimes tracking cookies
Every company has different practices, but they generally log some or all of this information, perhaps indefinitely.
It takes very little information about your web browser to build a unique fingerprint of it. [Continue reading…]