The most definitive studies conclude that nobody wants to be tracked online, and yet the amount of data collected by the Web’s most popular sites has significantly increased just over the last five months.
The Web Privacy Census, a study from the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, found a steep rise in cookies from third-party trackers, placed on the top 100 sites (according to data from Quantcast). Most of the cookies came from Google ads and ScorecardResearch, the analytics arm of comScore.
The 100-site list obviously includes all the prevalent social media — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr — along with the retail sites Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Apple. In other words, most of what you look at online all day is keeping tabs on you, now more so than ever. Of course, some would argue that tailored advertising that usually goes un-clicked doesn’t exactly spell the end of privacy as we know it. On the other hand, this sudden, recent significant rise in overall tracking could impact public opinion of the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed “Do Not Track” feature, which would allow anyone to opt out of being tracked online. We’d bet that with definitive research showing an uptick in data mining, the FTC’s proposal will gain momentum. What are your thoughts? Given this new data, would you “opt out” if you could? Tell us in the comments.