Online tracking has become of increasing concern in recent years, however our understanding of its extent to date has been limited to snapshots from web crawls. Previous attempts to measure the tracking ecosystem, have been done using instrumented measurement platforms, which are not able to accurately capture how people interact with the web.
In this work we present a method for the measurement of tracking in the web through a browser extension, as well as a method for the aggregation and collection of this information which protects the privacy of participants. We deployed this extension to more than 5 million users, enabling measurement across multiple countries, ISPs and browser configurations, to give an accurate picture of real-world tracking.
The result is the largest and longest measurement of online tracking to date based on real users, covering 1.5-billion-page loads gathered over 12 months. The data, detailing tracking behaviour over a year, is made publicly available to help drive transparency around online tracking practices.