Web Analysts Push For Privacy Standards

As Web tracking faces growing regulatory and public scrutiny, people who analyze online data for a living are confronting questions about their industry.

The Wall Street Journal’s What They Know series has documented the cutting-edge uses of the tracking technology used to create profiles of consumers’ habits. The 50 most popular U.S. websites installed 64 tracking files on average, the Journal study found.

Many of these are of the type used to develop profiles of users for behaviorally targeted advertising, but there can be other uses for such files.

Many sites use Web-analytics programs, for example, to evaluate the traffic coming to their own pages. Cookies from these programs can come from the site itself, in which case they are known as first-party cookies, or from another service, in which case they’re called third-party cookies. Such services are generally separate from ad networks, but there are no rules governing the sharing of such data.

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