Online forms capture your data

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An effective way to find out someone’s opinion about a product or service is to create an online form or survey. Other times online forms are the preferred way to sign up for a newsletter, sign up for an account or buy tickets. Click here to get a list of apps that collect the most personal information from you.

Websites use it more often than people realize, and this is at the heart of how visitors enter data. But it’s not always as safe as you think. The general idea is that data is only recorded when you click the “Submit” button.

But the investigation proves that such thinking is wrong. Read on to see how websites know what you’re typing, even if you don’t click “Submit”.

Here is the background

Security researchers from KU Leuven, Radboud University and Lausanne University found that nearly 3,000 websites in the U.S. capture user data before pressing a submit button. This means that websites collect data such as your email address, and may use it for targeted advertising and other purposes without your consent.

Even if you change your mind about providing personal information, it is probably already recorded on websites. The practice is similar to how controversial software, such as keyloggers, works. Keyloggers record every keystroke on the keyboard and send the data to criminals.

According to research, the biggest offenders in the U.S. are well-known websites that cover news services and online courses. Top 10 sites whose online forms skip email data before submitting:

  • Issuu
  • Business Insider
  • USA Today
  • Time.com
  • Udemy (appears twice)
  • Healthline
  • Fox News
  • Trello
  • Edge
  • WebMD

The team also found that parent company Facebook Meta and TikTok use an automated advanced mapping that collects “hashed personal IDs from web forms”. Contrary to their claims, both services record data “when a user clicks on links or buttons that in no way resemble a send button.”

What can you do about it

Before filling out an online form, think about whether to do so. Perhaps it is better to create an email address for writing that you can use for different websites. Email messages prevent spam or phishing attacks on your primary email account. Click or click here to create an email record.

The report found that as many as 8,438 U.S. websites shared data with Meta, and 7,300 websites did so in the European Union. Other well-known sites and services have also been involved in reckless data sharing and form collection, including:

  • Shopify
  • Bloomberg
  • Marietta
  • Prezi
  • Trello

If you’re wondering how many people leave a web form before submitting it, this is more than you think. The Manifest poll found that 81% of 502 respondents did so.

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Online forms capture your data

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