Saturday, October 1, 2011

The end of online privacy

In January of this year, researchers at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation tried an experiment. The online privacy advocacy group set up a Web page, and collected and stored the browser information of everyone who visited it.

There were no tricks. The site would not steal any data or urge casual visitors to install tracking software. It would simply log the same basic information almost all Internet users in the world inadvertently hand over each time they visit a website, including their time zone and Internet-protocol (IP) address – important clues to their location.

The most alarming result of the study of more than 470,000 Web surfers is that 83.6 per cent of them had an instantly identifiable, totally unique fingerprint: Their particular combination of settings and information was unlike that of any other user, increasing the chance they could be personally identified, even though they had done nothing but make a few clicks of the mouse. more