From the EFF:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a comprehensive report that identifies and explains the hidden technical methods and business practices companies use to collect and track our personal information from the minute we turn on our devices each day.
Published on Cyber Monday, when millions of consumers are shopping online, “Behind the One-Way Mirror” takes a deep dive into the technology of corporate surveillance. The report uncovers and exposes the myriad techniques—invisible pixel images, browser fingerprinting, social widgets, mobile tracking, and face recognition—companies employ to collect information about who we are, what we like, where we go, and who our friends are. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and hundreds of lesser known and hidden data brokers, advertisers, and marketers drive data collection and tracking across the web.
“Behind the One-Way Mirror” focuses on third-party tracking, which is often not obvious or visible to users. Webpages contain embedded images and invisible codes that come from entities other than the website owner. Most websites contain dozens of these bugs that go on to record and track your browsing, activity, purchases, and clicks. Mobile apps are equally rife with tracking code which can relay app activity, physical location, and financial data to unknown entities.
With this information companies create behavioral profiles that can reveal our political affiliation, religious beliefs, sexual identity and activity, race and ethnicity, education level, income bracket, purchasing habits, and physical and mental health. The report shows how relentless data collection and profile building fuels the digital advertising industry that targets users with invasive ads and puts our privacy at risk.
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