Faculty of Information Studies University of Toronto

140 St. George Street

Toronto, Ontario

M5S 3G6

Information about Environmental Scanning on the World Wide Web

What information is being gathered while I use the Web?

 Only information about your Web browsing behavior is being gathered. No email or other internet applications are being monitored. We respect and will protect the confidentiality of every participant. The true names of participants and their organizations will not be used. Data collected will be analyzed to produce aggregate statistics only. Typical information consists of the date and time you accessed the Web page, the title of the Web page, what actions you performed while visiting the page (i.e. printing the page) and the most frequent Web sites you visited.

When is this information gathered?

The information about your Web browsing behavior is only gathered when you are using the Web browser of your choice on your system. You can disable either the Web Tracker or Proxy Server option for any Web browsing you do not want logged.

How is this information being gathered?

 Depending on your particular computer type, two possible mechanisms are used to gather data about your information seeking behavior.

  1. Your browser is configured to use the Netscape Communications Corporation’s Proxy Server to keep log information and cache the Web pages you visit.
  2. A Web Tracker application, written by a project member here at the Faculty of Information Studies will collect entries about the menu choices you select while using your browser and the names of Web pages you visit.

What is a Proxy Server?

The Proxy Server used in this research is by the leading internet software company, Netscape Communications Corporation. It is designed to act as a middle man between you and the internet. In Netscape’s own words:

"Proxy Server is high-performance server software for replicating and filtering content on the Internet and intranets. Proxy Server uses an efficient replication model to cache web content locally, to conserve network bandwidth and give users faster access to documents. Proxy Server also enhances network security, because network packets do not pass directly between users' systems and the Internet. However, users' access to Internet services remains transparent."

This means that the Proxy Server saves the Web pages you visit and records aggregate statistics about the Web pages you (and any others using the Proxy Server) visit. Many corporations use Proxy Servers to keep local copies of Web pages many of their employees visit regularly. This means as someone requests a Web page, the Proxy Server gets the request and if the page is stored on the local Proxy, the page is sent immediately to the user instead of going out to the Internet. (Of course, the Proxy Server only keeps a Web page in its cache only so long to ensure that the most up-to-date Web page is received.) As the Proxy Server keeps these pages, it also collects the log information about when and who wanted each Web page.

How can I turn On or Off the Proxy Server?

Turning Off the Proxy Server:

For Netscape 3.x users:

1. Select Network Preferences… from the Options menu.
2. Click on the Proxies tab.
3. Click the No Proxies radio button.
4. Click the OK button to save these changes.

The Proxy Server is immediately turned off, you do not need to close and restart your browser.

Turning On the Proxy Server:

For Netscape 3.x users:

1. Select Network Preferences… from the Options menu.
2. Click on the Proxies tab.
3. Click the Manual Proxy Configuration radio button.
4. Click the OK button to save these changes.

The Proxy Server is immediately turned on, you do not need to close and restart your browser.

What is the Web Tracker Application?

The Web Tracker Application is a program developed here at the Faculty of Information Studies for Microsoft Windows users only. It runs in the background and only gathers menu choices and Web page information from your browser. It uses very little memory (as little as 24K) and updates a small log file on your hard disk. It only collects information while you are using your Web browser. No other information about your PC is collected. You can turn Web Tracker on and off to suit your concerns, but by default, we will make it run as a Startup application on your system.

How can I turn On or Off the Web Tracker Application?

The information about your Web browsing behavior is only gathered when you are using the Web browser of your choice on your system. You can disable either the Web Tracker or Proxy Server option for any Web browsing you do not want logged.

How can I turn On or Off the Web Tracker Application?

Turning Off the Web Tracker Application:

1. Switch to the Web Tracker application.
2. Click the Is OFF radio button.

Web Tracker is now off. You do not need to close or restart your Web browser.

Turning Off the Web Tracker Application:

1. Switch to the Web Tracker application.
2. Click the Is ON radio button.

Web Tracker is now on. You do not need to close or restart your Web browser to enable Web Tracker to begin working.