Online Tracking Agency Monitoring Peoples Online Behavior

From Privacy Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Online Tracking Agency Monitoring Peoples Online Behavior
Short Title A Person Ask an Online Tracking Agency for Access to Personal Data That the Company Has on Them
Location Global
Date 2018

Solove Harm Surveillance, Aggregation, Exclusion
Information Identifying, Behavioral, Preference, Computer Device, Demographic, Sexual, Family, Account, Transactional, Professional, Location
Threat Actors Quantcast

Affected People online
High Risk Groups
Tangible Harms Anxiety

A person asked a tracking company for all the data they had on them and got a list with more than 5000 rows of information about only one week of their life.


A person asked an advertising company called Quantcast for all of the data they have about them. They then posted a (deliberately blurred) screenshot showing the answer they got from the company. Over the course of a single week, Quantcast has amassed over 5300 rows and more than 46 columns worth of data including URLs, time stamps, IP addresses, cookies IDs, browser information and much more (all just about that one person). Quantcast has also predicted their gender, age, the presence of children in their household (in number of children and their ages), their education level, and their gross yearly household income in US Dollars and in British Pounds. Aggregation

Quantcast has also placed this person in much more fine-grained categories whose names suggest that the data was obtained by data brokers like Acxiom and Oracle, but also MasterCard and credit referencing agencies like Experian. Some of the categories are uncannily specific. Their MasterCard UK shopping interests, for instance, includes travel and leisure to Canada and frequent transactions in Bagel Restaurants.

Quantcast is a San Francisco-based company that collects real-time insights on audience characteristics across the internet and claims that it can do so on over 100 million websites.Surveillance

Quantcast is one of countless of so-called “third-parties” that monitor people’s behaviour online. Because companies like Quantcast have trackers on so many websites and apps, they are able to piece together people’s activity on several different websites throughout the day. Surveillance

Especially worrying the person found the fact that it is impossible for them to know whether this data can (and is) being used against them. Quantcast has no direct relationship with the people whose data they collect. Therefore, most people have never heard of the company’s name, do not know that they process their data and profile them, whether this data is accurate, for what purposes they are using it, or with whom it is being shared and the consequences of this processing. Exclusion


Threat: Advertising agencies like Quantcast monitoring peoples online behaviour through trackers on countless websites and apps
At-Risk group: Anybody online
Harm: Surveillance
Secondary Consequences: not known

Threat: Advertising agencies like Quantcast collecting and putting together into a profile as much data on every person as possible, including various categories of information
At-Risk group: Anybody online
Harm: Aggregation
Secondary Consequences: not known

Threat: Advertising agencies like Quantcast analysing vast amounts of personal information without letting people know, predicting information about people, reselling it to advertisers
At-Risk group: Anybody online
Harm: Exclusion
Secondary Consequences: Anxiety

Laws and Regulations