As the digital landscape evolves, so do the methods that companies use to collect user data. One of the most concerning trends in recent years is the rise of browser fingerprinting, a technique that allows companies to track users without the use of cookies. And now, according to recent research, this technology is present on more than 10% of the top-100K websites and over a quarter of the top-10K websites.

The issue of tracking user data has been a hot topic in recent years, with GDPR regulations imposing strict rules on the use of cookies. However, fingerprinting is currently unregulated, which means that companies have more freedom to collect and use this data. This is particularly concerning, given that the information collected through fingerprinting is often highly sensitive and can be used for a range of purposes, from advertising to identity verification.

So, what exactly is browser fingerprinting? Put simply, it’s a technique that involves collecting a range of data points that are unique to a user’s browser and device. This can include information about the user’s browser version, installed plugins, time zone, screen resolution, and more. By combining these data points, companies can create a unique “fingerprint” that identifies the user even if they clear their cookies or use a different device.

While fingerprinting can be used for legitimate purposes, such as fraud prevention or security, it’s also commonly used for advertising. By collecting data on a user’s browsing habits, companies can target them with more personalized and relevant ads. This is particularly valuable in the era of programmatic advertising, where ads are bought and sold in real-time based on user data.

However, the use of fingerprinting for advertising purposes raises serious privacy concerns. Unlike cookies, which can be deleted or blocked by users, fingerprinting is much harder to avoid. And because it’s currently unregulated, companies can collect this data without the user’s knowledge or consent.

So, what can be done to address the issue of browser fingerprinting? One solution could be to introduce regulations that limit the use of this technology, similar to the rules that already exist for cookies. Another option could be for browsers to introduce built-in protections against fingerprinting, such as blocking certain data points or randomizing them to make it harder to create a unique fingerprint.

Despite the concerns around privacy, it’s clear that fingerprinting is here to stay. Combined with a large identity graph, this technology presents an opportunity for next-generation contextual advertising and identity verification. However, it’s important that the use of fingerprinting is regulated to ensure that user privacy is protected. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, it’s up to lawmakers, browsers, and companies to work together to find the right balance between data collection and user privacy.

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