Propagation of unintentionally shared information and online tracking

Rath Kanha Sar, Yeslam Al-Saggaf


Various pieces of information are being shared online while users browse the Internet. Previous studies have demonstrated that as social networking sites (SNS) became popular, the information being leaked or shared is becoming more personal (including names and e-mail addresses). Users’ information is being shared or leaked from visited sites (both SNS and non-SNS) to third party sites (such as advertisers) in a number of ways including via the HTTP header. The intent of this study is identify the privacy implications of browsing the Internet within a single browsing session of a group of commonly visited sites (both SNS and non-SNS) doing activities common among most online users. We analysed the HTTP headers resulting from the first author’s browsing and reported on the types of information being shared or leaked, and to whom. We observed that within just a single browsing session of some sites, both the user’s identifiable and non-identifiable information are being leaked to various third party sites and also propagated to more than just one level of third party site. We also found that some SNS are also able to track user’s browsing activities not only within the SNS but also beyond it -particularly among web sites that use SNS widgets.


tracking; social network sites; online; internet; http cookies;

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