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Detection and measurement of web tracking

Imane Fouad 1 
1 PRIVATICS - Privacy Models, Architectures and Tools for the Information Society
Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, CITI - CITI Centre of Innovation in Telecommunications and Integration of services, Inria Lyon
Abstract : In this thesis, we detected and measured web tracking technologies. We further audited the legal compliance of websites within the EU data Protection legal framework by assessing their compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive. First, we proposed a fine-grained behavioral classification of tracking based on the analysis of invisible pixels. We demonstrated that popular methods to detect tracking, based on EasyList&EasyPrivacy and on Disconnect lists respectively miss 25.22% and 30.34% of the trackers that we detect. As a follow up of this first work, we made a qualitative study, and reported on the analysis on 176 websites of medical doctors and hospitals. We found that 76% of these websites fail to comply with the GDPR requirements on a valid explicit consent. Second, we studied the combination of both stateful and stateless web tracking techniques. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to detect and measure cookie respawning via browser and machine fingerprint. We found out that this technique can be used to track users across websites even when third-party cookies are deprecated. Finally, we investigate the legal compliance of purposes for 20,218 third-party cookies. We found that purposes declared in cookie policies do not comply with the purpose specification principle in 95% of cases in our automatized audit. Furthermore, we analyzed the authentication practices implemented in third-party tracking services to exercise the access right.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 12:41:33 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 3, 2022 - 3:59:30 AM


Version validated by the jury (STAR)


  • HAL Id : tel-03278529, version 2


Imane Fouad. Detection and measurement of web tracking. Web. Université Côte d'Azur, 2021. English. ⟨NNT : 2021COAZ4046⟩. ⟨tel-03278529v2⟩



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