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Thursday, 24 October 2019 11:12

Google leads the data trackers by a country mile: Kaspersky Featured

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Google leads the data trackers by a country mile: Kaspersky Image by Philip Uglow from Pixabay

Google, unsurprisingly, is the biggest slurper of data around the world, a study by security outfit Kaspersky has found, with the search behemoth ahead of all other companies that track users by a massive margin. In the Australia and New Zealand region, DoubleClick on its own had 15.51% of the market, with Google Analytics taking 5.22%. Google AdSense 2.47%, Google AdWords 2.39% and YouTube Analytics 1.17%.

Kaspersky measured the extent of data tracking by using the Do Not Track component of its own software; this is turned off by default. Anonymous data was collected between September 2018 and September 2019.

The firm's Anna Larkina said in a blog post that while trackers provided data that was useful about sales, advertising, people's social and political lives, "the majority of tracking campaigns are aimed specifically at showing ads to a range of target audiences".

"There are many companies in the world that collect and analyse data and provide full-cycle advertising services, but precious few of them are giants," Larkina said.

"Yet they account for most of all data collected. Besides global giants, there are regional ones that sometimes collect even more information than their international counterparts (which may indicate a fairly independent online space in that region)."

The graphic below shows the percentage of Google's data collection in various geographical regions.

google world reach

DoubleClick and Google’s share of data tracking in each of the regions.

The company owns ad network DoubleClick, Google Analytics and Google AdWords, all of which are top-notch tools for data collection; hardly any other company achieves double-figures in any region.

Google also collected data through YouTube; this was tabulated separately by Kaspersky, as shown below.

data youtube

Larkina said Facebook had two agents: one located on its pages and a custom agent. "It uses a tracking pixel embedded in pages to monitor standard events, custom actions, and custom conversions," she added. Facebook's share of data slurping around the globe is shown below.

facebook data

Yahoo! only had a notable presence in Asia through its advertising (6.82%) and Web analytics, though the latter's share was small - 0.73%. Yahoo! is now owned by Verizon.

Services like the Russian Mail.Ru, understandable, had a big presence in Russian-speaking regions (22.4% in Tajikistan for example), but even there DoubleClick had a sizeable presence (9.04% in Tajikistan).

Larkina also listed the data tracking by region, and again DoubleClick was far ahead of the others in most regions, with the Czech Republic being an exception with its own service, Seznam.cz, ahead of the Google ad network.

In China, Alibaba was top (21.14%), followed by Baidu (18.78%). In India, DoubleClick dominated; separate figures were not available as the country was grouped under South Asia; DoubleClick had 23.12%, Google Analytics 7.08%, Google AdWords 3.72%, Google AdSense 3.68% and YouTube Analytics 3.40%.

"The Internet is a common space for all people of the world," Larkins said. "Wherever they are, be it Peru, Djibouti, or Germany, most use the same resources. The degree of distinctiveness and detachment of certain geographical Internet spaces depends on many factors, for example, the development of a country’s Internet technologies, what languages are spoken there, and how open or closed the government politics and the society in general is.

"As we saw from the statistics, tech giants that collect and analyze data to show us targeted advertising are present practically everywhere in the world. And it is these companies that store the most data about people from all over the planet."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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