Excavating Web Trackers Using Web Archaeology
Adam Lerner, Anna Kornfeld Simpson, Tadayoshi Kohno, and Franziska Roesner
Third-party Web tracking has recently become a frequent source of privacy concerns among researchers, policymakers, and the public. But how long has tracking been a part of the Web, and how has it changed over the years? These questions led us to build a tool, Tracking Excavator, which time travels using the Wayback Machine’s archive of the Web. We were able to collect data on Web tracking over nearly the whole history of the Web, back to 1996, showing that archive-based measurements of the history of the Web are not only possible but are a powerful technique for examining Web tracking and other trends in the Web over its history.