Major Australian websites are actively tracking customers with long-term use of an average of 10 tracking cookies per site, research conducted by the Centre for Internet Safety (CIS) has found in an audit that also ranked sites by the compliance of their privacy policies with soon-to-be-tougher Australian privacy laws.
Created to assess online privacy protections in the leadup to the introduction of new and stricter privacy legislation in March 2014, the Australian-first 2013 Australian Online Privacy Index (AOPI) used Alexa Web site rankings to build a list of the country's 76 most popular Web sites. Each was audited against the requirements of the 13 Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) that will be introduced in the significant overhaul of Australian privacy legislation.
Banks dominated the report's top eight, with Westpac, Suncorp, St George, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia ranking 2, 5, 6, and 8 respectively. Also among the best sites were Australia post (#3), JB Hi-Fi (#4), and eBay (#7).
Imgur was by far the worst offender in terms of cookie usage, with 93 cookies installed on visitors' computers. The UK's Daily Mail was second, with 53 cookies, followed by Harvey Norman (44), CNET (43), The Guardian (40), Officeworks (39), News.com.au (32), RealEstate.com.au (30), NineMSN (24), and eBay (24).
Cookies were also ranked based on their duration, with Web site Alibaba.com dropping a cookie set to last 8850 days (over 24 years). The ANZ bank's cookies lasted 3090 days, Amazon.com's 2017 days, IMDB.com 1806 days, and Telstra 1759 days with WeatherZone (1058), Kogan.com (1057), Jetstar (746), Harvey Norman (706) and Flickr (656) rounding off the top ten.