A recently published study conducted by three Mozilla employees has looked at the privacy provided by browsing histories.
Their findings show that most users have unique web browsing habits that allow online advertisers to create accurate profiles.
These profiles can then be used to track and re-identify users across different sets of user data that contain even small samples of a user’s browsing history.
Effectively, the study comes to dispel an online myth that browsing history, even the anonymized one, isn’t useful for online advertisers. In reality, the study shows that even a small list of 50 to 150 of the user’s favorite and most accessed domains can let advertisers create a unique tracking profile.
The Mozilla research paper is named “Replication: Why We Still Can’t Browse in Peace: On the Uniqueness and Reidentifiability of Web Browsing Histories” [PDF].