Tracking has become an ubiquitous part of the internet. It is almost impossible to use the internet without being tracked. This ranges form simple user statistics to very extensive surveillance.
In recent years, in addition to the classic HTTP cookies, numerous other tracking techniques have been developed. Those methods are highly intransparent- and therefore very difficult to fend off.
In order, for tracking not only to unfold its negative potential, but also its opportunities for society, politics and economics (i.e. taking care of coordination, orientation and organization), it is essential to secure and restore the user’s trust in tracking technologies.
Tracking should be labelled clearly and there should be technically feasible ways to gradually reduce or eliminate the tracking stages. If users decide to use tracking blockers, they should be affected by any disadvantages when using online-platforms.
In addition, the "do-not-track principle" should be anchored in law. This means that tracking does not occur unless explicitly agreed to.
In those cases, where tracking is required (e.g. to remain logged on to a website even after restarting a device), it should be designed to be as data protection friendly as possible. In general, companies should analyze user profiles using pseudonyms instead of using personal data.
The aim should be to ensure that the data-handling process is regulated uniformly not only on the users' devices but throughout the entire processing operation, so that users are given an actual choice on the basis of a gradual consent system instead of a "take it or leave it" approach.
Tracking is as ubiquitous precisely because many business models are based on it. Alternative financing models should therefore be expanded further so that tracking can be largely abandoned.
Finally, society could also think about the extent to which the data, collected with the help of tracking methods, can be "democratized" in order to balance the asymmetrical knowledge relationship between the users and the data-processing companies. The question also arises as to whether users can be granted a right to data co-determination. This could ensure that the knowledge generated by tracking not only serves the interests of a few companies, but also the common good.
The White Paper on this topic published by Forum Privatheit is available for download as a pdf file:
Regina Ammicht Quinn / Andreas Baur / Tamer Bile / Benjamin Bremert / Barbara Büttner / Olga Grigorjew / Thilo Hagendorff / Jessica Heesen / Nicole Krämer / Yannic Meier / Maxi Nebel / German Neubaum / Carsten Ochs / Alexander Roßnagel / Hervais Simo Fhom / Severin Weiler
1. Auflage, Mai 2018