The Web Tracking Arms Race: Past, Present, and Future

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 2:30 pm3:00 pm

Arvind Narayanan, Princeton University


The open web has led to a privacy and security arms race: the ad tech industry has come up with sneaky ways to track people’s activities online, but informed users can control ads and tracking using sophisticated client-side tools. The open web also allows researchers to study tracking on an unprecedented scale using automated browsers. In this talk, I’ll describe my research group’s findings on the state of online tracking, and our efforts to build tools to shift the balance in users’ favor. I’ll conclude with recommendations for policy makers and browser vendors. In particular, I’ll argue that there is no meaningful "neutral" stance on privacy; browser vendors who value user privacy should bundle technical defenses against tracking.

Arvind Narayanan, Princeton University

Arvind Narayanan is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Princeton. He leads the Princeton Web Transparency and Accountability Project to uncover how companies collect and use our personal information. Narayanan also leads a research team investigating the security, anonymity, and stability of cryptocurrencies as well as novel applications of blockchains. He co-created a Massive Open Online Course as well as a textbook on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies. His doctoral research showed the fundamental limits of de-identification, for which he received the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Award.

Narayanan is an affiliated faculty member at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton and an affiliate scholar at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. You can follow him on Twitter at @random_walker.

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@inproceedings {208179,
author = {Arvind Narayanan},
title = {The Web Tracking Arms Race: Past, Present, and Future},
booktitle = {Enigma 2018 (Enigma 2018)},
year = {2018},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan

Presentation Video