The truth is often even worse than you think it is. I quit hanging around Forbes.com once they got whiny about ad blockers and promised, if you turned them off, an “ad-light” experience. It is, of course, nothing of the kind:
The “ad-light experience” employs 38 trackers consuming 83.1 MB of memory. What does the non-light experience look like? For reference, Google Maps’ scripts take 52.7 MB and they actually do something useful.
Well, so do the trackers, if your definition of “useful” stretches enough to include “follows me around like a lost puppy”:
The tracking isn’t done with cookies; those are too easy to delete. Trackers identify you with a browser fingerprint: Your operating system, browser version, time zone, plug-in versions, screen resolution, installed fonts, IP address, and other things you thought were private.
Or if not private, certainly irrelevant, right? Wrong:
The more uniquely-configured your system, the more identifiable you are. (How identifiable? Check here.)
Which I did. Apparently my browser fingerprint is unique among the 130,000 or so that have been tested, and I ought not to be surprised by that.
It doesn’t matter if you use incognito mode and block cookies; that’s just another data point to add to your profile. It’s called a fingerprint because every one is unique. And each time you load a tracker, your fingerprint is captured and the activity is added to your browsing profile.
Hardly seems worth the bother for NSA to monitor me, if the private sector is already gathering this much data.