Benefits of URL PING tracking

URL ping is an HTML5 tag that pings a URL anytime the link is clicked. In Security Now Episode #709, Steve Gibson explains in detail (as he always does so masterfully) how this HTML5 standard has gained some velocity in browsers where you cannot even opt out anymore in Chrome, possibly to be followed by other browsers, inevitably.

This invasion of individual privacy is definitely a problem we want to allow our users to mitigate.

Our perspective is that this is the right step forward as compared to the non-parallel process of going from Browser -> Tracker1 -> Tracker2 -> TrackerX -> Destination, for these reasons:

  • Trackers can now be blocked without impacting user experience
  • Whether trackers are blocked or not, the parallel process improves the user “speed” experience
  • It is overall a cleaner, more predictable method of providing a means of tracking

Here is how adam:ONE blocks the ping:

Consider this simple HTML example:

<a href="" ping="/url?url=">link that wants to be tracked</a>

When a user clicks on link that wants to be tracked, simultaneously these browser connections happen:

Note that first party trackers cannot be blocked at the gateway. Nothing will prevent browser extension authors from achieving that, though. However, the tracking abuse has traditionally occurred with third party blockers, which track in aggregate and follow us on the web. Those can now be blocked. Yay!