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Researcher Finds Health-Related Searches Threaten Privacy

ONLINE PRIVACY—U.S.

July 9, 2013

AFP reports on a researcher at the University of Southern California who says patients searching for health-related information online may have their privacy threatened. Marco Huesch searched key terms such as "depression," "herpes" and "cancer" on health-related websites. Using free privacy tools such as DoNotTrackMe and Ghostery, Huesch found third-party entities tracking him. Sampling 20 high-traffic sites, including the Food and Drug Administration and WebMD, at least one third-party entity—and as many as six or seven—were tracking him on each site, he found. Additionally, 13 out of 20 sites contained third-party elements that tracked user data, and seven of those 13 leaked Huesch’s searches to tracking entities, the report states.
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