WhaleOil site tracking visitors


ProPublica reveals that internet tracking software is running on Cameron Slater's right-wing blog.

A new digital canvas fingerprint programme that is used to track users has been discovered running on two New Zealand websites: WhaleOil, the right-wing blog, and the University of Auckland.

Link to the database of websites: https://securehomes.esat.kuleuven.be/~gacar/sticky/index.html

Last week, Julia Angwin, the author of Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance, revealed “the programme works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.”

“Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit — profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them. But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They can’t be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus.”

The computer code, primarily written by company AddThis is running on up to 5 percent of all of the top websites. The company aims to, “Expand your audiences and glean insights from user behavior such as emailing, printing, address bar sharing and over 300 other social networks and services.”

There are already commercial websites that will show you ads for items in specific price ranges based on information they have about other websites you have visited. Some even change the price of their goods based on your zip code. This is the new “cutting edge” of personal data use, Angwin says.

Tracking of everyone’s activities both online and in the real world are now ubiquitous; and what’s more, the reasons for doing so are not always immediately clear. We are being tracked, profiled, catagorised and labeled for a whole range of reasons, without our knowledge or consent for reasons that may be as varied as marketing and advertising, to provision of government benefits, to so-called ‘national security’ or ‘cybersecurity.’


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