Infoscience

Journal article

MyAdChoices: Bringing Transparency and Control to Online Advertising

The intrusiveness and the increasing invasiveness of online advertising have, in the last few years, raised serious concerns regarding user privacy andWeb usability. As a reaction to these concerns, we have witnessed the emergence of a myriad of ad-blocking and antitracking tools, whose aim is to return control to users over advertising. The problem with these technologies, however, is that they are extremely limited and radical in their approach: users can only choose either to block or allow all ads. With around 200 million people regularly using these tools, the economic model of the Web-in which users get content free in return for allowing advertisers to show them ads-is at serious peril. In this article, we propose a smart Web technology that aims at bringing transparency to online advertising, so that users can make an informed and equitable decision regarding ad blocking. The proposed technology is implemented as a Web-browser extension and enables users to exert fine-grained control over advertising, thus providing them with certain guarantees in terms of privacy and browsing experience, while preserving the Internet economic model. Experimental results in a real environment demonstrate the suitability and feasibility of our approach, and provide preliminary findings on behavioral targeting from real user browsing profiles.

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