Technology

How a privacy tool detects what websites are tracking you

The tool does not save results unless the user chooses to share it through an option in the tool, The Markup stated.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Blacklight, a real-time privacy inspector tool, emulates how a user may be surveilled while browsing the web.

When a user types a URL into Blacklight, the tool scans the website for known privacy violations and provides a privacy analysis of the site.

It visits each website with a headless browser, running custom software built by The Markup, a non-profit newsroom that uses datasets to understand how technology companies impact the society. The tool goes by the description "Big Tech Is Watching You. We’re Watching Big Tech".

Blacklight seeks to identify various types of surveillance including third-party cookies, ad trackers, key logging, session recording and Facebook tracking.

The tool has been developed using a specific Javascript environment which provides high-level control over Chromium, the source code for Chrome, Edge and other major browsers.

The browser runs custom software in the background that monitors scripts and network requests to record when and how user data is being collected. After generating scripts, the tool uses this data to run tests.

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The tool does not save results unless the user chooses to share it through an option in the tool, The Markup stated.

Blacklight also tests for Facebook Pixel, a piece of code that allows websites to target their visitors later with ads. Common actions that can be tracked by pixel include viewing a page or specific content, adding payment information, or making a purchase.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 3:07:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/how-a-privacy-tool-detects-what-websites-are-tracking-you/article32708128.ece

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