PC World reports on a new type of online tracking for targeted behavioral advertising, browser fingerprints:
The method pulls together innocuous data about your browser, such as plug-ins, system fonts, and your operating system. Alone, they don’t identify you. Together, they’re a digital fingerprint.
It’s like describing a person. Just saying “brown hair” won’t identify anyone. But add in “5 feet, 10 inches tall,” “chipped right front tooth,” “size 12 shoes,” and so on, and soon you have enough information to pull someone out of a crowd, even without their name, Social Security number, or any other of the usual identifiers.
Browser fingerprinting was developed for banks to employ to prevent fraud. But now one company, Scout Analytics, offers it as a service to Web sites, and it collects not just browser data but also data about how you type–things like your typing speed and typing patterns.
In the arms race between online ad vertisers and Web surfers, this new technology could be a pretty big gun.