BALTIMORE, Nov. 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — TrackOFF, a data privacy company that develops software to stop online tracking, announces today the results of their study which found that 95% of surveyed candidates running in November battleground elections are using Google, Facebook, or another third party analytics tool on their website to track online voter behavior. Candidates may use this data to target voters with different online ads based on profiling. Nearly all of the companies behind these analytics tools have been sued in the past for violating users' privacy.
Using a random sampling of candidates from 35 states and analyses with TrackOFF's software and corroboration through manual examination, TrackOFF's findings show that 84% of these candidates are using Google Analytics, 42% are using Facebook's tracking technology, and 11% are using a third-party tool that has been subjected to less public scrutiny over privacy violations. The sample included 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans – 75 of which are running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 25 for the U.S. Senate. 36 are incumbents, and 64 are not.
“Politicians like to say they care about online privacy. The reality is they rely on online tracking as much as any other industry. Our research is very clear—those who want to get elected this November are digging up as much information as possible about potential voters' personal online habits,” commented CEO and co-founder Chandler Givens.
While these analytics tools have traditionally relied on cookie-based tracking, which allows users to opt-out, they've recently moved towards a technique called device fingerprinting. Rather than tracking behavior through one device, these analytics tools can now map all your online interactions – no matter the device – to a single profile based on your behavior.
As a response to the growing wave of online tracking threats and violations of personal privacy, TrackOFF has launched a free trial to help voters protect their data and their families' data. TrackOFF acts like an online paper shredder: first by detecting tracking software, then obscuring your identity and changing the way you look on websites you visit so that behavior can't be mapped back to you. For this study, TrackOFF engineers modified the software's detection module to catalog every single tracking script found on the websites of candidates for the midterm election. Its public version lets users see each time a third-party is attempting to track them.
“If you think unlicensed voter profiling will be regulated soon without any public pressure, think about the fact that politicians are just now discussing the implications of cookie-based tracking, which started 24 years ago,” said Givens. “The use of these tracking tools influences voter behavior and may ultimately undermine our democracy. Awareness of the problem can help us all find ways to take back control of our personal data.”
About TrackOFF: TrackOFF builds tools to protect identities and personal lives, giving people the power to reclaim control of their data. For a low monthly cost, TrackOFF obscures the tracks of you and your family's digital fingerprint– ensuring your information remains protected and untraceable.