WWW2009 EPrints

Privacy Diffusion on the Web: A Longitudinal Perspective

This item is a Paper in the Security and Privacy track.


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For the last few years we have studied the diffusion of private information about users as they visit various Web sites triggering data gathering aggregation by third parties. This paper reports on our longitudinal study consisting of multiple snapshots of our examination of such diffusion over four years. We examine the various technical ways by which third-party aggregators acquire data and the depth of userrelated information acquired. We study techniques for protecting against this privacy diffusion as well as limitations of such techniques. We introduce the concept of secondary privacy damage. Our results show increasing aggregation of user-related data by a steadily decreasing number of entities. A handful of companies are able to track users’ movement across almost all of the popular Web sites. Virtually all the protection techniques have significant limitations highlighting the seriousness of the problem and the need for alternate solutions.

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About this site

This website has been set up for WWW2009 by Christopher Gutteridge of the University of Southampton, using our EPrints software.


We (Southampton EPrints Project) intend to preserve the files and HTML pages of this site for many years, however we will turn it into flat files for long term preservation. This means that at some point in the months after the conference the search, metadata-export, JSON interface, OAI etc. will be disabled as we "fossilize" the site. Please plan accordingly. Feel free to ask nicely for us to keep the dynamic site online longer if there's a rally good (or cool) use for it... [this has now happened, this site is now static]