ProPublica Report on Browser-Based Spyware Leads to Removals

Earlier this week, ProPublica published a report on AddThis, a browser-based surveillance and tracking tool that the report billed as "virtually impossible to block". Excerpt:
A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.  First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, 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.
In an update to the piece, it is noted that a number of entities identified in the report as utilizing the spyware contacted the ProPublica to inform them that they had ceased using the tracking tool.  Excerpt:
After this article was published, YouPorn contacted us to say it had removed AddThis technology from its website, saying that the website was "completely unaware that AddThis contained a tracking software that had the potential to jeopardize the privacy of our users." A spokeswoman for the German digital marketer Ligatus also said that is no longer running its test of canvas fingerprinting, and that it has no plans to use it in the future.
If only the professional political prostitutes in government took privacy that seriously.

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