Third-party web tracking: Policy and technology

Jonathan R. Mayer, John C. Mitchell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

344 Scopus citations


In the early days of the web, content was designed and hosted by a single person, group, or organization. No longer. Webpages are increasingly composed of content from myriad unrelated ̈third-partÿ websites in the business of advertising, analytics, social networking, and more. Third-party services have tremendous value: they support free content and facilitate web innovation. But third-party services come at a privacy cost: researchers, civil society organizations, and policymakers have increasingly called attention to how third parties can track a user's browsing activities across websites. This paper surveys the current policy debate surrounding third-party web tracking and explains the relevant technology. It also presents the FourthParty web measurement platform and studies we have conducted with it. Our aim is to inform researchers with essential background and tools for contributing to public understanding and policy debates about web tracking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2012 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, S and P 2012
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780769546810
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event33rd IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, S and P 2012 - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: May 21 2012May 23 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy
ISSN (Print)1081-6011


Other33rd IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, S and P 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Do Not Track
  • Web privacy
  • third-party tracking


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