Issues related to Internet privacy have become increasingly important. Netizens (or citizens or the net) are less anonymous than they think while surfing on Internet, blogging or even sharing images with their friends on Facebook.

A study made by the Montreal Gazette highlights these privacy violations. It shows how most high-traffic websites such as Google, Facebook, comScore and Quantcast looked at in the study, share the netizen’s username and user ID with other sites.

Jon Leibowitz,in a speech “Consumer Privacy, the FTC, and the Rise of the Cyberazzi” given in Washington, D.C. October 11, 2011, the U.S Federal Trade Commission chairman declared that this study would help the protection of netizens and their privacy on the Internet. He liked behavioral advertising and date collection to paparazzi “cyberazzi.”

The study’s author, Jonathan Mayer, a graduate Stanford student, noted that 61% of the websites he interacted used information leakage (username and ID.)

“Many times, developers are not thinking about privacy issues, and it’s a fact of life that information is going to leak to third parties. I think we have to recognize that’s just the way the web works,” said Mayer.

Mayer created accounts for sites and then tracked where the information went. On the Photobucket, a photo sharing databank, his study found that a username was sent to 31 other websites. Asked how consumers could avoid such data leakage, Mayer said, “The best thing they can do is to block advertising, because the moment content is loaded on the browser, there is a risk of tracking.”

“The study found that signing up on the NBC website shared a user’s e-mail address with seven other companies, while viewing a local ad on the Home Depot website sent a user’s name and e-mail address to 13 companies. Leibowitz applauded Microsoft Corp, Mozilla and Apple for adding “do not track” features to their browsers and said he hoped Google would soon follow suit. He added the FTC had no intention of ending behavioural advertising, but was advocating giving consumers streamlined and effective choices about the collection and use of their data.”