Tracking the Trackers: Ethical measurements of web privacy leakages in-the-wild
@ WebSci 2021

Nishanth Sastry, Guillermo Suarez De Tangil, Nicolas Kourtellis, Mainack Mondal, Xuehui (Rachel) Hu, Pushkal Agarwal
University of Surrey, IMDEA Networks, King’s College London, Telefonica Research, IIT Kharagpur

First introduced in the mid-nineties as a way of recording client-side state, cookies have proliferated widely on the Web, and have become a fundamental part of the Web ecosystem. However, there is widespread concern that cookies are being abused to track and profile individuals online for commercial, analytical and various other purposes. Consequently, there has been an explosion of research into understanding the prevalence of tracking on the Web, and the resulting leakage of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). In this tutorial, we aim to introduce the audience to state-of-the-art empirical measurement methods and techniques that are being used to understand and quantify web tracking in-the-wild.

Introduction to Privacy (first 1.5 hour)

Introduce the audience to basic concepts and techniques, with examples from recent research.

Issues in tracking

Legislation and Perceptions of Privacy

Ethics & Research

Types/means of tracking


Coffee Break (0.5 hour)

Practicals against Tracking (second 1.5 hour)

Hands-on experience into state-of-the-art tools and techniques, including some developed by the tutorial organisers. As well as some instructions for our github repositories and data sets.

Automated measurements

Human-centered measurements

Interpreting results