October 25, 2013
Would you like to know who’s watching which websites you visit? Well there’s an app for that.
It’s standard practice for advertisers to keeps tabs on the sites you frequent using tracking cookies. Tracking cookies are small text files that are downloaded on to your computer that log the websites you browse and, in some case, how you interact with these sites. Advertisers and other companies use these logs to build a profile of your interests, allowing advertisers to sell you products and services you’re more likely to buy.
In an attempt to highlight just how many different firms are tracking our browsing habits online Mozilla has produced Lightbeam, an add-on that can be downloaded for the Firefox browser that captures who is watching you.
Every time you visit a site the tool logs every web address that is connecting to your machine, revealing how visiting a single website can result in your computer to connecting to many different web servers. Each of these servers may be controlled by different companies, and send and collect different information — for example, serving up images and adverts on the site or placing tracking cookies on your computer.