Online tracking of users is become more the norm than the exception these days, and various websites are resorting to audio fingerprinting. The AudioContext API can identify audio signals which may reveal unique information about one’s browser and Internet-connected device.
Audio Fingerprinting Reveals Sensitive User Information
When consumers browse websites online, the last thing that would cross anybody’s mind is how site owners are keeping track of visitors through audio fingerprinting. A recent study by Princeton University researchers shows this new method of tracking is being used by a variety of websites, in the hopes of obtaining visitors’ browser and device information.
What is even more concerning is how audio fingerprinting does not require the tracker to obtain specific computer privileges, such as accessing a device’s microphone. Instead, it looks at the signal in the way it is being processed, which can reveal unique information about the device and the software used to connect to the Internet.
These revelations paint a worrisome picture for users who are trying to retain privacy on the Internet. Despite best efforts by the users to switch on a VPN connection or anonymity software, audio fingerprinting seems to bypass most of the precautions. Speaking of anonymity software and privacy, a lot of the top 1 million websites in the world use WebRTC to log this information.
It is not the first time major website are tracking a lot of user information, as Canvas fingerprinting is being used by a wide variety of platforms already. Although this method can only determine which fonts are installed in the browser, the question becomes why anyone would need to log this information in the first place.
Third-party tracking, on the other hand, seems to be consolidated at this time, which is in stark contrast to the booming market some experts had anticipated. This is a silver lining for privacy-centric users, as the consolidation of this market segment may eventually result in bringing privacy-enhanced tools and features to the table.
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