Online tools which track user behaviour for advertisers have been found on a swathe of EU public health websites, including NHS and Gov.uk pages.
These trackers could compromise sensitive data about people, according to researchers at data protection compliance service Cookiebot.
The researchers also discovered trackers on 89% of EU government websites.
Most of the trackers were developed by Google.
They were designed to “associate web activity with the identities of real people” Cookiebot said.
Of all the 28 EU member states, only Spanish, German and Dutch government websites were tracker-free.
“We of course expect everyone to fully comply with EU data protection rules and it is the responsibility of EU data protection authorities to ensure compliance,” a spokeswoman for the European Commission said.
But the public health website trackers presented additional risks, said Cookiebot.
“Over 100 advertising technology companies are systemically and invisibly tracking EU citizens when they visit their governments online, or when they access public health service resources about sensitive issues, such as pregnancy, sexual health, cancer or mental illness,” it explained.ADVERTISEMENT
Some of the search queries that could bring users to these public health pages included “I have HIV, now what?” and “I want to terminate my pregnancy”.
The Cookiebot researchers argued…