Problems with Web Bugs
Pervasive Yet Invisible
Our analysis of user expectations found that users are concerned about data collection and want greater control over the process, but they only voice their concerns when they perceive an invasion of privacy. Users have little control over the data collection by web bugs, but web bugs are essentially invisible to users, and therefore have not garnered much attention among average users.
We recommend that the practice of third-party tracking be made more transparent. It currently operates in a policy loophole, by which neither the website nor the tracker are clearly accountable for the data collected. We recommend that websites define the policies of the third party trackers it allows on its site, or at a minimum, link to the appropriate policies on the tracking companies’ websites and specify which practices fall under each policy.
We recommend regulation by which third-party trackers must allow users to see all the data that has been collected about them.
The presence and purpose of third party tracking should also be made more salient in the minds of users. We recommend that all browser developers provide a Ghostery-like function in their browsers that alerts users to the presence of third-party trackers.