Wired reports on new research at the University of California at Berkeley concerning online tracking:
Researchers at U.C. Berkeley have discovered that some of the net’s most popular sites are using a tracking service that can’t be evaded — even when users block cookies, turn off storage in Flash, or use browsers’ “incognito” functions.
The service, called KISSmetrics, is used by sites to track the number of visitors, what the visitors do on the site, and where they come to the site from — and the company says it does a more comprehensive job than its competitors such as Google Analytics.
But the researchers say the site is using sneaky techniques to prevent users from opting out of being tracked on popular sites, including the TV streaming site Hulu.com. […]
KISSmetrics is a 17-person start-up founded in 2008 and based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founder Hitten Shah confirmed that the research was correct, but told Wired.com Friday morning that there was nothing illegal about the techniques it was using.
“We don’t do it for malicious reasons. We don’t do it for tracking people across the web,” Shah said. “I would be having lawyers talk to you if we were doing anything malicious.” […]
The research was published Friday by a team UC Berkeley privacy researchers that includes veteran privacy lawyer Chris Hoofnagle and noted privacy researcher Ashkan Soltani.
“The stuff works even if you have all cookies blocked and private-browsing mode enabled,” Soltani said. “The code itself is pretty damning.”