Browser Fingerprinting and the GDPR

The unique digital identity you never knew you had. 

Browser Fingerprinting and the GDPR

The unique digital identity you never knew you had.

Created on: 1. March 2023
3 Minutes

Browser fingerprinting is a technique used by websites and advertisers to track and identify a user’s device and online behavior based on information collected from their web browser. This information may include technical details about the device, software, and network, as well as user-specific information such as language preferences, time zone, and browsing history.

Since browser fingerprinting relies on the collection of personal data, companies using this technique must comply with the strict requirements of the GDPR. This includes obtaining the express consent of users and informing them of the type of data collected and the purposes for which they will be used.

It’s worth noting that obtaining explicit browser fingerprinting consent can be challenging as users may not be aware of what technology or personal information is being collected. This underscores the importance of transparency and clear communication when it comes to privacy and data protection.

What is a browser fingerprint?

A browser fingerprint is essentially a unique identifier created by collecting various pieces of information about a user’s device, browser and network. This information may include technical details such as browser type and version, screen resolution, installed fonts and system language, and user-specific information such as IP address, time zone and browsing history.

This information is then combined to create a unique identifier that can be used to track the user across multiple websites and devices. This allows companies to build a profile of the user, including their online behavior, interests and preferences, which can then be used for targeted advertising or other purposes.

A browser fingerprint is not a globally unique identifier. It is unique to a given device, browser, and network combination, but not necessarily across all devices and networks.

The uniqueness of a browser fingerprint depends on the information collected and the methods used to collect it. While some browser fingerprints can be very accurate in identifying a particular device and user, others may not be so as some information may change over time, e.g. B. IP address, software updates and installed fonts.

In addition, the accuracy of a browser fingerprint may vary depending on the type of information collected and the methods used to collect it. For example, some browser fingerprinting techniques can only collect a limited amount of information, while others may collect a much wider range of data.

What does this mean for GDPR compliance?

In order to comply with the GDPR, companies must ensure that the data collected through browser fingerprinting is necessary for the specific purpose and that the user has expressly consented to the data collection. This means companies need to be transparent about what types of data are being collected, for what purposes they are being used, and who has access to them.

In addition, companies must ensure that the data collected is secure and that appropriate measures are taken to prevent unauthorized access or misuse of the data. This includes regularly updating security systems, implementing strong password policies, and regularly monitoring for potential breaches or security incidents.

It is also important for companies to be able to delete a user’s data upon request, in accordance with the right to be forgotten. This means organizations must have a system in place to quickly and securely delete user data, including browser fingerprinting data, when requested by the user.

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