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Tales from the Porn: A Comprehensive Privacy Analysis of the Web Porn Ecosystem

Vallina, Pelayo and Feal, Álvaro and Gamba, Julien and Fernández Anta, Antonio and Vallina-Rodríguez, Narseo (2019) Tales from the Porn: A Comprehensive Privacy Analysis of the Web Porn Ecosystem. In: ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC 2019), AMSTERDAM.

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Modern privacy regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, aim to control user tracking activities in websites and mobile applications. These privacy rules typically contain specific provisions and strict requirements for websites that provide sensitive material to end users such as sexual, religious, and health services. However, little is known about the privacy risks that users face when visiting such websites, and about their regulatory compliance. In this paper, we present the first comprehensive and large-scale analysis of 6,843 pornographic websites. We provide an exhaustive behavioral analysis of the use of tracking methods by these websites, and their lack of regulatory compliance, including the absence of age-verification mechanisms and methods to obtain informed user consent. The results indicate that, as in the regular web, tracking is prevalent across pornographic sites: 72% of the websites use third-party cookies and 5% leverage advanced user fingerprinting technologies. Yet, our analysis reveals a third-party tracking ecosystem semi-decoupled from the regular web in which various analytics and advertising services track users across, and outside, pornographic websites. We complete the paper with a regulatory compliance analysis in the context of the EU GDPR, and newer legal requirements to implement verifiable access control mechanisms (e.g., UK's Digital Economy Act). We find that only 16% of the analyzed websites have an accessible privacy policy and only 4% provide a cookie consent banner. The use of verifiable access control mechanisms is limited to prominent pornographic websites.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Papers (Paper)
Depositing User: Pelayo Vallina
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 10:51
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2019 10:51

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