The Chair of Computer Science at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg is conducting long-term research on the subject of browser fingerprinting. The aim of the work is to explore the technology’s impact on internet users’ privacy and to help promote the protection of personal data.
The term “browser fingerprint” describes the fact that Internet users are often identifiable on a high level of dimensions. Similar to how cookies are used, a user can also be identified by their browser’s imprint and, in some cases, can also be tracked across multiple websites.
The researchers at Friedrich-Alexander University also emphasize that this technology does not have to be fundamentally bad, but that it can also be used, for example, to better secure online accounts and better identify suspicious registrations. Given the anti-tracking measures taken not least by Apple and the associated “devaluation” of cookies, browser fingerprinting is now also increasingly used by ad providers and curious online services.
Participants can check personal fingerprints
Last but not least, the study is interesting for participants because they can check on a weekly basis how clearly they can be identified by their browser fingerprint. In principle, however, participation is not mandatory and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The research team from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg should at least be known to older readers of jojo Reviews. Nine years ago, the same chair launched an iPhone app that used device signatures to show how recognizable users were. A year earlier, students from the same university had analyzed HotSpot passwords generated by iOS.