YouTube users be aware: Your viewing habits can be tracked
Gaps in YouTube's encryption enable both government intelligence agencies, hackers and internet marketers to determine videos you watched.
Despite YouTube’s attempts to safeguard user anonymity, intelligence agencies, hackers and online advertising companies can still determine which videos a user is watching.
An Israel University researcher Ran Dubin had built a simple yet robust machine-learning algorithm that can identify which video you watched—within a predetermined set of videos—with a high degree of accuracy.
The algorithm is based on an in-depth study of how video services work, how video content is encoded and how a video player requests information to play it
Dubin was able to us this algorithm to determine if someone had watched a specific video from a set of suspicious, terror-related videos. Intelligence agencies could access this technology for tracking terrorists or other suspicious individuals. Internet marketing companies could track the number and make-up of viewers watching an ad.
While this information could be helpful, the researcher warns average YouTube users to be aware that their viewing history on YouTube and other internet video platforms can be tracked.