How Web of Trust (WoT) supposedly Anonymized data "trust" was broken

Web of Trust (WOT), a popular browser add-on, which rates websites based on their trustworthiness using crowd-sourced data, has been in the news over the debate if the company behind WoT properly informed users of data collection by the extension.

NDR.de, a Germany portal claimed the popular browser add-on was selling its users’ browser histories to third-parties without properly anonymizing the data.

The NDR.de report shows how easily data associated to specific persons and/or organizations with intimate details of their lives is given out at a price, which data comprises data set of persons in public service: police officers, judges and journalists, in addition to private users.

While these Web histories provide intimate secrets from the professional and personal details about ongoing police investigations, the Sadomasochistic preferences of a judge, life, internal sales figures for a media company and Web searches to diseases, prostitutes and drugs.

The Background behavior of every user is logged and the extension transmits data about surfing habit to a central server.

WOT, on the other hand had stated on the privacy policy that certain data is collected and shared with third parties, albeit anonymously, but NDR.de research revealed over 50 samples of users whose personally identity, for example, E-Mail addresses, name, login, or other components of the URLs is accessed.

Mozilla had responded by removing Web of Trust from Firefox's add-on catalog, and WoT has subsequently pulled down its add-on from the extension libraries of all other major browsers, including Chrome and Opera.
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