HTML 5 Tracking Spreading, Says Berkeley Web Privacy Census


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The University of California at Berkeley Law School today released its quarterly census of web trackers, and the results point to a rise in sites' use of local HTML5 storage. The report, titled The Web Privacy Census, was authored by Nathan Good and Chris Jay Hoofnagle.

HTML5 local storage, according to the report, allows developers more flexibility and much more room to store data locally. Though the report states that the increase in HTML5 storage does not mean an overall increase in websites tracking users, the data stored through this method can persist and track users in ways that Flash cookies cannot.

Speaking of Flash cookies, the internet's top websites have begun shifting away from them in favor of HTML5 storage. As seen in the graph below, Flash has quickly fallen out of vogue with the top 100 sites on the web. The number of those sites that use HTML5 storage has doubled since last year, and the raito of Flash cookies to HTML5 has nearly reversed :

HTML5 vs. Flash cookie storage

The census concludes that this trend is likely to continue, and that, in general, third-party tracking will continue to increase online. In subsequent quarterly reports, the researchers hope to examine trends over time. Also, this census did not take any of its results while logged into a third-party service, such as Facebook or a Google account. The researchers state that, as many internet users do stay logged into such services while browsing the web, examining their tracking implications will be a future consideration.

(Pictures courtesy The Web Privacy Census)