Privacy on Adult Websites

Altaweel et al., Privacy on Adult Websites, Workshop on Technology and Consumer Protection (ConPro ’17), co-located with the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, San Jose, CA (2017).

11 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2016 Last revised: 10 Mar 2017

See all articles by Ibrahim Altaweel

Ibrahim Altaweel

Good Research; University of California, Santa Cruz, Students

Maximillian Hils

Good Research; University of Muenster, Students

Chris Jay Hoofnagle

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information; University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: October 3, 2016

Abstract

As it does in polite conversation, pornography goes unmentioned in policy discussions. This paper begins a conversation about this major use of the web, one that is sensitive and could lead to embarrassment and harm to users if publicized. In countries where pornography is illegal, tracking of these behaviors could have profound consequences for users. Viewing such material is legal in the US, yet authorities may wish to avoid the topic of protecting its consumers.

We document and discuss the user tracking dynamics on the most popular adult-oriented websites (N=11). Tracking dynamics are different on adult sites than other popular sites. There are relatively fewer third-party tracking companies involved and fewer cookies than on comparably popular sites. However, we found that Google trackers (Google Analytics and/or DoubleClick) were present on almost all the sites and that search terms were often leaked in plaintext to third parties and sometimes encoded in cookies. Finally, the dominance of video in pornography could explain the presence of Flash on almost half the sites. We found Flash being used to read HTTP cookie values, but we did not find any evidence of Flash cookies respawning.

Keywords: Adult Websites, Pornography

JEL Classification: D18

Suggested Citation

Altaweel, Ibrahim and Hils, Maximillian and Hoofnagle, Chris Jay, Privacy on Adult Websites (October 3, 2016). Altaweel et al., Privacy on Adult Websites, Workshop on Technology and Consumer Protection (ConPro ’17), co-located with the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, San Jose, CA (2017).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2851997 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2851997

Ibrahim Altaweel

Good Research ( email )

828 San Pablo Ave
Suite 120D
ALBANY, CA CA 94706
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HOME PAGE: http://manip.io

University of California, Santa Cruz, Students ( email )

1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA
United States

Maximillian Hils

Good Research ( email )

828 San Pablo Ave
Suite 120D
ALBANY, CA CA 94706
United States

University of Muenster, Students ( email )

Schlossplatz 2
Muenster
Germany

Chris Jay Hoofnagle (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information ( email )

212 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
United States
510-643-0213 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://hoofnagle.berkeley.edu

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

344 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-643-0213 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://hoofnagle.berkeley.edu

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