EU Science Hub

Privacy safeguards and online anonymity

In a world that is increasingly more connected, digital citizens, actively or passively accept to transmit information, part of which are “personal data”. This information is often collected and elaborated by third parties to infer further knowledge about users. The act of gathering the data is commonly called “tracking” and can be performed through several means. The act of analysing and processing those data and relate them to the individual is called “profiling”. The aim of this JRC Technical report is to be an instrument of support for the Digital Citizens to help them to protect and to manage their privacy during online activities. After a brief introduction in Chapter 1, the following chapter is dedicated to the description of two legitimate use-cases to track and profile users on-line, namely target advertising and personalisation of the user experience. Chapter 3 and 4 identify and analyse the set of techniques currently used by online digital providers to track citizens and profile them based on their online behaviour. Chapter 5 deals with some of the available tools cited in chapter 6 that could be helpful to protect the privacy while browsing online. Chapter 6 aims to raise awareness among users and provide some guidelines to address specific issues related to privacy through a multidisciplinary approach. The report concludes highlighting the importance of raising awareness among digital users and empower them through education, technical and legal tools, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to overcome possible privacy issues.