What is a browser fingerprint?
A browser fingerprint is a set of browser characteristics that can be used to recognize browsers if the combination of those characteristics is unique.
Which browser characteristics are used for fingerprinting?
A browser fingerprint can be based on obvious information such as the browser name or version, but also on less obvious information such as the screen resolution, the list of installed fonts, or the browser's behavior when rendering graphics. Each piece of browser information that can be queried by websites or that is revealed in HTTP requests or by the browser's behavior can be part of your fingerprint.
What are browser fingerprints used for?
Similar to the human fingerprint, which is used to identify humans, browser fingerprints are utilized to recognize browsers and thus users without their knowledge or consent. The majority of browsers have a unique fingerprint, meaning that users on the Web can be recognized and tracked across several websites even if the users did not log in on a website.
Are browser fingerprints bad?
There are good and bad uses of browser fingerprints. A possible good use of fingerprints is, for example, protecting users from online account theft by detecting suspicious changes of browser characteristics between login sessions. An obviously bad use of fingerprints is tracking users without their knowledge or consent, especially because browser fingerprinting is technically very difficult to prevent.
Why did I not receive a verification email after signing up?
Check your spam/junk directory and mark us as trustworthy contact. If you cannot find our email either in your inbox or in your spam/junk directory, please contact us via email (see contact page).
Why do you need my email address?
We hope to obtain more precise results while collecting fingerprints over a longer period by assigning them on the basis of email addresses instead of cookies. If your participation ends, your email address will be deleted from our database. Under no circumstances will we share your personal data with third parties.
During the Participation
Why did I not receive one of those emails to measure my fingerprint?
Check your spam/junk directory and mark us as trustworthy contact. If you cannot find our email neither in your inbox nor in your spam/junk directory, please contact us via email (see contact page).
What happens if I forgot to let you measure my fingerprint?
Nothing. You are not obliged to visit the links we send you. Of course, we would appreciate it if you decide to visit them so we can measure your fingerprint on a regular basis.
Are all of these browser characteristics you collected really necessary to determine a browser fingerprint?
No. Related studies have shown that even very few characteristics can be sufficient to recognize browser very clearly in certain circumstances. But we want to determine which characteristics affect the stability of fingerprints and how.
How can I unsubscribe from the study?
Visit the unsubscribe link that is embedded in each of our weekly emails. Afterwards, you will receive no further emails from us and your email address is deleted from the database automatically.
How am I helping you to investigate browser fingerprinting?
Everytime you visit one of the links to measure your fingerprint, we will query and store characteristics of your browser. By assigning your visit to your email address, we will be able to compare your fingerprints to those of other participants more precisely. In addition, we can examine how your browser's characteristics change over the period of your participation. Under no circumstances will we share your personal data with third parties. After your participation ends, your email address will be deleted from our database so no assigning of email address and browser fingerprints will be possible anymore.
Why isn't there an app for that? Emails are inconvenient.
With a mobile app, we would restrict the group of participants to smartphone and tablet users. However, we want to investigate the browser fingerprints of desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet users. Based on the emails we send, we hope to cover the majority of devices.
What is the difference between this study and related studies?
In related studies, cookies were used to recognize users in order to control the total number of fingerprints and their changes over time. Therefore, users didn't need to sign up. Our study is based on participants that signed up with their email addresses so we can control the total number of fingerprints and their changes more precisely.