Cliqz study reveals how tracking threatens privacy

In three quarters of all visits to websites, data on the basis of which users could be identified and tracked is sent to third parties.

Thomas KonradCliqz GmbHpress@cliqz.com+49 89 9250 1833

Munich, 8 March 2016: Tracking is widespread on the Internet. In September 2015, the Munich-based company Cliqz GmbH, a provider of Internet browsers with integrated search and data privacy technologies, carried out a Germany-wide study with 200,000 users. The study looked at the risks of tracking for users’ privacy. 21 million page loads of five million websites on 350,000 different domains were analysed.

According to our study “Tracking the Trackers”, trackers collect insecure data in over three quarters of page loads – intentionally or not. Cliqz defines data on the basis of which individual users could be identified and tracked through the web as insecure. As revealed in the study, Google is by far the biggest operator of trackers. Insecure data is transferred to Google in approx. 40% of page loads.

Why is tracking a risk to privacy?
In approx. three quarters of all page loads, data is passed on to trackers – data on the basis of which individual users could be identified and their activities on the web tracked. Why is this so alarming? Imagine that a user visits a number of websites which feature the same operator’s trackers one after another. These could be online shops and news sites but also erotic sites, sites with information regarding addictions or bankruptcy and forums where political activists converse with each other etc. The trackers’ databases store extremely private information which gives an insight not only into the user’s financial situation, interests and purchasing intentions but also their sexual orientation, health or political and religious beliefs. If the user then logs into their personal page on the popular service about.me for example, the highly personal information from previous website visits can be attributed to them. The data poses an imminent risk to their privacy.

We do not know what Google, Facebook, Amazon, Criteo and the countless other tracking operators do with the data. In most cases, it remains unclear who has access to the data, with which business partners the data is shared and what the data is actually used for. The US intelligence service NSA or the US judicial authorities can force US providers to issue data regarding German users. Hackers could also gain access to tracking data. At the very least, there is a risk that individual people could be spied on and that data could be leaked.

“Data on the basis of which people could be identified or tracked on the Internet should not be collected in the first place. However good the original intention was, intentions can change or the data could end up in the wrong hands. At Cliqz, we therefore classify such data as insecure. We protect our users against unwittingly transferring sensitive data. Private information should remain private,” explained Marc Al-Hames, Managing Director of Cliqz GmbH.

Cliqz prevents snooping
Anti-tracking is already built into the Cliqz browser for Windows and Mac. In order to identify insecure data, Cliqz uses statistics obtained with the help of its Human Web technology. Data elements sent by a number of users small enough to allow information about them to be obtained are classified as insecure.

The anti-tracking technology developed by Cliqz changes the data elements before they are sent to the tracker in such a way that it is no longer possible to obtain information about individual persons.

The Cliqz browser for Windows and Mac can be downloaded free of charge from http://cliqz.com. It comprehensively protects users’ privacy – even for users with no technical background.


About Cliqz

The mission of the German startup Cliqz is to redesign the Internet for the user by combining the power of data, browser, and search. In Munich, approximately 100 experts from 30 different countries develop browsers and browser extensions with integrated search engines to bring users to their destination in the most direct way while protecting their privacy.
Jean-Paul Schmetz founded Cliqz GmbH in 2008. Since May 2013, Cliqz GmbH has been majority-owned by Hubert Burda Media, one of Europe’s leading media and tech companies. In August 2016, Mozilla joined as a strategic minority investor. With Cliqz for Firefox launched in June 2014, the concept of searching quickly via the browser gained traction fast with more than a million daily active users in just a few months. The Cliqz browser for Mac and Windows with integrated anti-tracking launched in March 2016. The Cliqz browser with built in quick search engine is also available for iOS and Android. cliqz.com


Press Contact

Thomas KonradPR & Communications, CliqzCliqz GmbHpress@cliqz.com+49 89 9250 1833