Privacy Risks Introduced by Web Beacons

Privacy Risks Introduced by Web Beacons

Privacy Risks Introduced by Web Beacons

While browsing online, users will inevitably generate an online footprint that is derived from their online activities and preferences. Part of how it functions is the use of cookies and web beacons being passed to and stored on the user’s computer. While cookies are static, one-dimensional ways of tracking users across the internet, web beacons are so much more. Web beacons give the owner of an e-commerce site the ability to do much more than simply view where the user has been.

Although the information that can be collected about your clients and their trends through web beacons is useful, for the most part, e-commerce traders need to be aware that malicious attacks do exist. These attacks target e-commerce sites by having invalid visitors visit the site, specifically to skew marketing metrics and analytics data. By implementing an AI-driven solution for on-site conversion, the impact of these invalid visitors can be reduced significantly.

Different forms of web beacons can be identified based on their function and the method in which they are executed.

Also read: How to Make Mobile Friendly Website: A Easy Guide

What Are Web Beacons?

Web beacons, also known as tracking pixels or clear GIFs, are small transparent images that are embedded in web pages and emails. They are typically one-by-one pixels in size and are invisible to the user.

These Web beacons work by sending a request to a server when they are loaded on a web page or email. This request can include information such as the IP address of the device that loaded the beacon, the time the beacon was loaded, and the type of device that was used. This information is then collected and used to track the user’s behaviour and to target tailored online ads to the user.

Use of Web Beacons in E-Commerce

One of the main benefits of web beacons for e-commerce businesses is that they allow tracking and analysis of user behaviour and preferences. This can help eCommerce businesses to understand how users interact with their websites, shops, and emails, allowing them to optimize the user experience.

By understanding how users navigate through their websites and what products or services they are interested in, businesses can make changes to their website design and layout to improve the user experience and increase the chances of a sale.

Web beacons can also be used for targeted advertising. By collecting information about the user’s interests and behaviour, businesses can show the user ads for products that are more relevant to their interests. This can be vastly more effective than showing the user randomly generated, generic ads, as the user is more likely to engage with ads relevant to their interests.

Risks Introduced by Web Beacons

However, there are also potential downsides and risks associated with web beacons. One concern is that they can be used to track users without their knowledge or consent. This can be a breach of privacy, and many users are uncomfortable with being tracked without their knowledge.

Another potential risk is that web beacons can be used to spread malware. If a web beacon is loaded from an untrusted source, it could potentially infect the user’s device with malware.

Also read: 13 Ways to Improve Telemarketing Strategy and Win Customers

Privacy Rights of Online Customers

To protect themselves, users can use browser extensions or settings that block or limit the use of web beacons. However, it is important to note that blocking web beacons may also prevent certain features from working or may negatively impact the user experience.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of laws that were adopted by the European Union (EU) in 2018 to protect the personal data of EU citizens. The GDPR has had a significant impact on the use of web beacons, as it requires companies to obtain explicit consent from users before collecting their data. This includes data collected using web beacons.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a similar law that was passed in California in 2018. It gives California consumers the right to opt out of the sharing or selling of their data and requires companies to disclose what personal data they collect and how it is used.

In Conclusion

Web beacons are small transparent images that are used to track and analyze user behaviour and show targeted ads online. They can be useful for e-commerce businesses looking to improve their overall user experience and increase the rate of sales conversions, but they also have the potential to compromise user privacy and security. The GDPR and CCPA have introduced stricter requirements for the use of web beacons, but it is still up to the user to decide whether the benefits of web beacons outweigh the possible risks.

Consent is the keyword in this regard. Without consent, online vendors should not place any web beacons on the user’s device.

For more information on web beacons and how data privacy laws regulate tracking pixels, visit this blog by CHEQ.AI.

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