Canvas Fingerprinting: Meet the New Cookie-free Way To Track Your Fingerprints Online

For those who are unaware (myself included), canvas fingerprinting is a form of tracking which works when the web browser of a visitor is instructed to draw some hidden image. Given the variety of images drawn by various computers, these drawings are used to assign a number to each device in order that it can be easily identified. Similar to various other tracking software, canvas fingerprinting can create user profiles on the basis of website the user visits. The interesting part is that it is very tough to block one of these. You would use proxy settings on your browser to get rid of standard tracking tools or anti-tracking tools but that is not so simple in case of canvas fingerprinting.

Canvas Fingerprinting
via ShutterStock

Study suggests that the computer code for canvas fingerprinting is written courtesy of a company by the name AddThis. Usually, the code is found on websites using the social media sharing tools of AddThis. The chief executive of AddThis claims that the venture only began as a means to replace cookies. The company did ponder over the implications of privacy before proceeding, confident in the knowledge that it abided rules and regulations. So far the collected data has been used for research and development. The chief executive reassures that it would not be used for personalization. Researcher Arvind Naryanam does not believe this is enough reassuring coming from the chief executive of the company.

The device itself relies on the computers being partially different from one another. These could include variations in things such as software fonts, settings etc. These attributes automatically come to light once computers connect to one another using the Internet. Mind you, this is not the first tracking company to seek such differences for identification of computers in order that online ads can be published. Since web users have had the brains to frequently delete cookies and/or use ad-blocking software, more companies have resorted to such methods so that they can still make it through. Talk about resorting to shady stunts.