Jacquie Lawson e-cards pseudo-analysis   (a small rant for Christmas morning)

A prime example of careless third-party reliance and intrusive tracking that happens on "innocuous" websites: a link gets sent to this in email, which the recipient is enticed to click and receive an animated "Christmas card".  Not only is the link keyed to track the email address, a whole lot more sneaky data-collection is going on under the covers.

After a bit of analysis and trial-and-error, we can temporarily allow enough random domains to load Javascript that the mechanism mostly works, but look at our NoScript configuration showing the amount of extra junk this page tries to bring in.  And this is just the animation iframe alone, not even showing the rest of the stuff that the "jacquielawson" site itself tries to stuff down our throats when the original link is visited.


We finally get the animation to play, which is loaded in segments from Brightcove.  Sure, it's cute, and we can't entirely fault the artists for the work they undoubtedly put into it -- even if it's later exploited.  At the same time, Brightcove is desperately trying to track us as well, by loading several tiny invisible 1x1 .GIF images from their "metrics" site, via links keyed specifically to our activity.  Whether we wanted to be part of their demographics-collection or not.


Does this make you feel warm and fuzzy and "Christmasy", or perhaps just slightly violated "in the back end", so to speak?  And (as evidenced by seeing the "your message" preview template instead of what the sender intended), we didn't even let all the components load and run to begin with.  "Tiqcdn", for example, is another well-known tracking facility that a lot of sites use, and earns a well-deserved place in our "permanent deny" proxy list along with other "industry leaders" such as doubleclick, optimizely, clicktale, quantserve, exelate, omniture, demdex ... the list goes on and on.  There are literally hundreds of these sleazebags out there, all greedy for your data.

_H*   221225  ...   Happy Holidays??