The privacy of fonts on the web

Today, heise wrote about Linotype’s offer in the “fonts for webpages” market.

If I’m not mistaken, that’s not the first commercial offering of licensing fonts for the new HTML/CSS font feature. On one hand, this a really good offer, as it allows amateur sites to use professional fonts for free and commercial, high-traffic sites can use these fonts for a reasonable price.

But one thing bugs me about these offers: In order to enforce the pay-per-pagehit business model, these services need to serve the fonts from their own servers. That means:

  • On the plus side, potentially better caching between different sites.
  • But: the font-servers implicitly track all visitors to the website using these fonts.

Given all the privacy implications that embedded ads and social media gizmos (“click here if you like this”) are starting to raise, fonts seem to be the next thing you need to be careful about if you’re conscious about the traces you leave in third-party access-logs.