By Michael J. Matthews, ReutersWASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of websites tracking devices has grown by 1.1 million since January, according to a new report by the American Association of Governmental Organizations (AAGO).
The AAAO study, released on Thursday, said the number of sites that track devices has risen by 466,000 since January 2015, to 2.8 million.
The number is likely higher because it does not include websites that do not have enough traffic to be tracked by third parties.
It is possible that some of the increase is because of an increase in the number who are using personal devices to track their devices, AAAO Chief Economist Richard E. Wolff said in a statement.AAPO said the majority of sites tracked are mobile applications, which is also a growing market.
More than half of those tracked sites were hosted on the Internet, but the vast majority were hosted offline, where people are less likely to have access to mobile data networks.
In the past, most devices were tracked by a single company, but that has changed, the AAGO said.
Some of the growth in tracking includes the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), which provide anonymity on the network while allowing sites to track devices.”VPNs have made it much easier for websites to track the devices they host, which in turn makes it easier for people to use VPNs to circumvent the monitoring,” Wolff wrote.
“We know that some websites are using these methods to mask their IP addresses and thus avoid having to pay ISPs for the privilege.”
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can use this information to track websites, such as advertising and analytics firms.
However, the AAAO said, the data collected by these third parties is not subject to the same privacy protections as the information collected by the companies that host the websites.
“These providers can access the IP addresses of those who use their services, but they cannot use them to identify users of these services or track activity on their servers,” the report said.
“Many ISPs use this tracking information to target ads and target ads based on users’ browsing history and other information collected in their ads,” the AAO said in the statement.
The report did not include details about the types of websites that have reported increased traffic.
For example, in April, Verizon reported it was seeing more than 1 million requests from the NSA to obtain internet data from websites.
But in a separate report, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Verizon had not shared its own data with the NSA.
The AAGOC said the use and disclosure of such information by companies such as Verizon, Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter has contributed to the rise of websites using such techniques.
“The information available from these platforms is often collected without a warrant and can be used to conduct unlawful surveillance,” the AAAE said.