Some day ago, the Wall Street Journal started a new initiative called What They Know.
The WSJ created a website filled with the results of a recent research about Privacy and most visited websites.

The graph below shows, in a captivating way, the amount of Cookies and Beacons (we’ll write about them soon) the scanned websites install on the browsers of their users.
Cookies and Beacons are, in simple terms, tools for tracking users’ activity on a website, including what users type (for example when filling a form, even if the submit button is not clicked).

The WSJ also published a list with the websites scanned, sorting them by number of trackers (sum of Cookies and Beacons).
Dictionary.com, Comcast, Photobucket, MSN, Yahoo!, Answers, MSNBC are just few of the websites on the top of this black list.

The WSJ also published this article called The Web’s New Gold Mine, in reference to the business of (depersonalized) personal data. You’ll find the article a really alarming reading. You’ll surely be surprised of how many data a website can collect about you, and the fact that your name is never saved in these tracking files will be a poor consolation.

This is the disquieting way that the article has to begin:

Hidden inside Ashley Hayes-Beaty’s computer, a tiny file helps gather personal details about her, all to be put up for sale for a tenth of a penny.

The file consists of a single code— 4c812db292272995e5416a323e79bd37—that secretly identifies her as a 26-year-old female in Nashville, Tenn.

The code knows that her favorite movies include “The Princess Bride,” “50 First Dates” and “10 Things I Hate About You.” It knows she enjoys the “Sex and the City” series. It knows she browses entertainment news and likes to take quizzes.

Here the rest.


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