first-party-tracking-cookies | episodes

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First Party Tracking Cookies

Today, we are joined by Shaoor Munir, a Ph.D. student at the University of California. Shaoor, whose research interest lies around the development and evaluation of privacy-preserving technologies, joins us to discuss his recent publication titled, COOKIEGRAPH: Measuring and Countering First-Party Tracking Cookies.

Shaoor began the conversation with an overview of privacy-preserving technologies. According to him, the field of privacy-preserving technologies is ever evolving and there is a lot more awareness about it today than ever before. Shaoor went on to discuss the reasons advertisers need personal data. He also explained how advertisers track users for their personal data. He explained that the use of IP addresses have become less common. Shaoor discussed why advertisers preferred using third-party cookies over just IP addresses.

But third-party cookies are currently being clamped down by browsers such as Safari and Firefox. Shaoor discussed the reaction of advertisers to this development, one of which includes migrating to first-party cookies. He also discussed what using first-party cookies entail.

Going forward, Shaoor talked about the data model that first-party cookies use in storing user behavior. He explained his methodology for crawling the data on 10,000 websites with and without third-party cookies. He also explained his use of machine learning algorithms to analyze the data and detect advertisers that use first-tracking cooking for tracking purposes. 

Shaoor discussed the model prediction accuracy. He compared the results with a baseline model. Rounding up, he discussed the prospect of privacy-preserving technologies and how users can better protect their data online. He briefly spoke on other related research areas for further exploration in the future. You can follow Shaoor on Twitter @Shaoor_Munir or visit his website at where he posts updates and includes everyhwere you can find him online.

Shaoor Munir

I am a first-year Ph.D. student of Computer Science at the University of California, Davis, where I am currently being advised by Professor Zubair Shafiq. My research interests revolve around making the internet private and secure for all netizens through the use of modern machine learning and data analytics techniques.