There are so many ways for someone to gather information about users on the internet it’s almost hard to keep up with them. It seems like every time we turn around there’s a new form of technology that has the potential to undermine someone’s reasonable expectations of web privacy. All of these elements/methods can be used for both good reasons as well as malicious ones – it really depends on who is collecting data and how the people those data belong to feel about the collection. Regardless of where you stand, however, we think you should know the different ways that info can currently be gathered.
The below list of Wikipedia entries and articles should give you a good overview of data collection practices. Please keep in mind that many entities employ multiple methods, combining and cross-referencing data gathered using various techniques.
Commonly used methods/elements:
Local shared objects (LSOs):
- Very similar to device fingerprinting in that they check browser versions against one another and can determine changes/ device associations relatively quickly.
- See also: Metadata
Personal info given voluntarily – No link here, just a tip: What you say on the internet, stays on the internet. Never put any info up that you don’t want others to see, end of story. This includes all social networking sites and other non-secured sites upon which you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
See something we missed? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll add it!