Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are always watching you — even when you’re browsing pornography websites in incognito mode.
Trackers from tech companies like Google and Facebook are logging your most personal browsing details, according to a forthcoming New Media & Society paper, which scanned 22,484 pornography websites. Where that data ultimately goes is not always clear.
“These porn sites need to think more about the data that they hold and how it’s just as sensitive as something like health information,” said Elena Maris, a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft and the study’s lead author. “Protecting this data is crucial to the safety of its visitors. And what we’ve seen suggests that these websites and platforms might not have thought all of this through like they should have.”
The study’s other authors — Jennifer Henrichsen, doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, and Tim Libert, a Carnegie Mellon computer science instructor — found that 93 percent of the pornography websites they scanned sent data to an average of seven third-party domains. The authors used webXray, an open-source software tool, which detects and matches third-party data requests to scan sites. Most of that information (79 percent of websites that transmitted user data) was sent via tracking cookies from outside companies.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google Services, including Madison.