Silicon Valley’s most huge companies are always keeping an eye on users, even when they are browsing pornography websites in incognito mode.
Trackers from tech companies like Facebook and Google are logging users’ most private browsing details, according to a report. It has also been confirmed that a forthcoming New Media and Society paper scanned 22,484 pornography websites. So, it is unclear where the ultimate data goes.
“These porn sites need to think more about the data that they hold and how it’s just as sensitive as something like health information,” said Elena Maris, a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft and the lead author of this study. “Protecting this data is crucial to the safety of its visitors. And what we’ve seen suggests that these websites and platforms might not have thought all of this through like they should have.”
Other authors of the study, Jennifer Henrichsen, who is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, and Tim Libert, who is a Carnegie Mellon computer science instructor, found that 93% of the pornography websites they scanned sent data to an average of seven third-party domains. webXray was used by authors, which is an open-source software tool, that detects and matches third-party data requests to scan sites. Most of that information (79 percent of websites that transmitted user data) was sent via tracking cookies from exterior companies.
Researchers also found that only 17% of porn sites that were scanned had any form of encryption, which leaves user data on the rest vulnerable to leaking.
Google, along with its subsidiary firms, revealed that it had been tracking 74% of the porn websites, while software developer Oracle had trackers on 24% of sites.
Even Facebook, which forbids nudity and pornographic content on its various social media platforms, is digging in for some action, having trackers on 1 in 10 of the sex websites that were scanned by Dr. Maris and her colleagues.