Differential Tracking Across Topical Webpages of Indian News Media

by   Yash Vekaria, et al.

Online user privacy and tracking have been extensively studied in recent years, especially due to privacy and personal data-related legislations in the EU and the USA, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, ePrivacy Regulation, and California Consumer Privacy Act. Research has revealed novel tracking and personal identifiable information leakage methods that first- and third-parties employ on websites around the world, as well as the intensity of tracking performed on such websites. However, for the sake of scaling to cover a large portion of the Web, most past studies focused on homepages of websites, and did not look deeper into the tracking practices on their topical subpages. The majority of studies focused on the Global North markets such as the EU and the USA. Large markets such as India, which covers 20 and has no explicit privacy laws, have not been studied in this regard. We aim to address these gaps and focus on the following research questions: Is tracking on topical subpages of Indian news websites different from their homepage? Do third-party trackers prefer to track specific topics? How does this preference compare to the similarity of content shown on these topical subpages? To answer these questions, we propose a novel method for automatic extraction and categorization of Indian news topical subpages based on the details in their URLs. We study the identified topical subpages and compare them with their homepages with respect to the intensity of cookie injection and third-party embeddedness and type. We find differential user tracking among subpages, and between subpages and homepages. We also find a preferential attachment of third-party trackers to specific topics. Also, embedded third-parties tend to track specific subpages simultaneously, revealing possible user profiling in action.


Under the Spotlight: Web Tracking in Indian Partisan News Websites

India is experiencing intense political partisanship and sectarian divis...

By the user, for the user: A user-centric approach to quantifying the privacy of websites

Third-party tracking is common on almost all commercially operated websi...

Stop Tracking Me Bro! Differential Tracking Of User Demographics On Hyper-partisan Websites

Websites with hyper-partisan, left or right-leaning focus offer content ...

Clash of the Trackers: Measuring the Evolution of the Online Tracking Ecosystem

Websites are constantly adapting the methods used, and intensity with wh...

On Privacy Risks of Public WiFi Captive Portals

Open access WiFi hotspots are widely deployed in many public places, inc...

Tracking sex: The implications of widespread sexual data leakage and tracking on porn websites

This paper explores tracking and privacy risks on pornography websites. ...

Invisible Pixels Are Dead, Long Live Invisible Pixels!

Privacy has deteriorated in the world wide web ever since the 1990s. The...

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset