The History Of Internet Tracking And The Battle For Privacy | NBC News NOW

Channel: NBC News
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The practice of tracking online interactions may have started with innocent intentions, but data tracking and privacy are now the subject of heated global debate. NBC News takes a detailed look at the past, present and future of internet privacy in America. » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnew...



Transcript
We are entering the information age and the internet is a great place to move tons of information at the speed of life. The fastest-growing part of the internet is the world wide web, an area that combines text, graphics and pictures and permits people to hop from place to place easily when we were working on the web in the 90s we weren't thinking ahead too far we were thinking about. Can i make t ...
e web useful people so the early web was text and hyperlinks pretty soon. People got tired of just text and they wanted images as well and that led to an embedded element you could put in your page. But it referred to a differentmachine by its internet address. It referred to your friend's cat picture server and then 1994, the cookie came along and you could think of that as a way of saving some information in your browser for every site you visit, it was meant so when you go to your bank and you sign In you would not have to sign in every time he went forward or back or started your browser over between the cookie and the image you had a tracking system without knowing it, and we did this naively. We were saying, let's make the web useful. Let'S put images in: let's make cookies, you don't do login all the time, essentially, every click every onlineinteraction is recorded and not just recorded by the company that you interacted with the creepiest part of this is that it's being recorded by dozens hundreds, perhaps even thousands of So-Called third parties online by first party, i mean the website that you think you're visiting and a third party is any other entity. That'S on that site and it's typically not visible, you're, typically not aware you're interacting with them. My grad students and postdocs and i have built a bot, an automated computer program that pretends to be a real user and browses the work. It looks at the web's top 1 million websites every month, but it's especially looking at the things on those web pagesthat. A human user would not notice the cookies and what are called fingerprints and various other tracking technologies.

So i started open the window p. m. to visit the top hundred websites, these loads each website on a different window and then collected data about tracking related practices like cookies or scripts. What kind of data has been accessed and transferred? All these are logged into a data. Most commonly they will just place a cookie with a unique identifier so that they can track you across websites in the experiments where we enter a personal information such as email and password. As soon as you type like email address, it will be collected on santa a third party inother cases. The website will fingerprint your browser. If you go to order coffee at the same shop, the barista, who may not know your name until you give it to them. May recognise your order. They recognize how you dress, they recognize your hairstyle. They are identifying in the sense that it lets someone pick you out of the crowd. The way it works is that those companies is third party.

That'S hidden on the site sends a sequence of commands to your browser that causes it to draw an image and hit an image that you would not know as being drawn on your screen, but the way that you browser is gon na interpret those commands is gonnabe. Different based on the version number based on various other things, even based on what is the set of fonts. You have installed on your computer when a website says hey, try to draw this line, draw this curve, draw this shape or end of this image. Your web browser goes, oh graphics, editing, that's best suited for a graphics card. It has that over to your graphics card. So it draws this picture and it draws it with so much attention to detail that if you ask any other graphics card running any other version of software running on any other computer to do the same thing. It'Ll look just a little bit different. So if you askthe same web browser to draw the same picture again, you'll be able to to remember who it was, who drew the picture with exactly those pixels in exactly those places here. Facebook come home page actually makes your browser draw this like interesting security with smiley's and collects it to fingerprint your browser and again this is an invisible drawing. You wouldn't know that it's going on, but by drawing that image and then reading it back as the sequence of pixels, it's gon na get an exact sequence of pixels back. That'S gon na differentiate, different users, different devices. Of course, like it all the website, you visit you how much time you spend on them you're like a mousemovements keypresses.

What part of the page you interact with all these are sent in real time on website that use session replay scripts and a session replay is something like a video recording of your browser screen when you're browsing a website. They'Re, not reputable companies that you might have heard of you don't know who they are. You don't know that company is recording your screen, you don't know who's gon na get access to that videos and in that process these companies try to redact your passwords and credit card numbers and so on, but that redaction doing it in an automated fashion is technically Hard, i would say essentially impossible, so they fail a lot of thetime, so we've found that credit card information, health information like your drugs and prescription student information. All of that, since their information is getting into the hands of third parties, there are a number of extensions. You can install in your browser to protect yourself against this kind of sneaky tracking privacy, badger ghostery. If you block origin, if you install any one of these they're gon na, do a pretty good job of protecting you for most, certainly not all but most of the hidden third party tracking, hey nbc news viewers, thanks for checking out our youtube channel subscribe by clicking On that button down here and click on any of the videos over here to watch, thelatest interviews show highlights and digital exclusives thanks for watching.


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