Stripe Is Silently Recording Your Movements On Its Customers' Websites

Michael Lynch, blogger and former software engineer at Microsoft and Google, discovered that the payment processing platform Stripe and its official JavaScript library records all browsing activity on its customers’ websites and reports it back to the company. Lynch says this data includes the following:

  1. Every URL the user visits on my site, including pages that never display Stripe payment forms
  2. Telemetry about how the user moves their mouse cursor while browsing my site
  3. Unique identifiers that allow Stripe to correlate visitors to my site against other sites that accept payment via Stripe

In his blog post, Lynch shares what he found, who else it affects, and how you can limit Stripe’s data collection in your web applications. Here’s how he says he made the discovery: I discovered this by accident while adding paid plans to my portfolio rebalancer. As part of development, I was using an HTTP proxy that allows me to inspect HTTP traffic from my browser. After successfully implementing my app’s payment flow with Stripe, I noticed that every page navigation generated a new HTTP POST request to a Stripe URL. This was strange because none of the pages I visited contained any calls to Stripe’s library. In fact, my app doesn’t collect payment information from users until they create an account, but Stripe was making HTTP requests when I landed on my app’s homepage as a brand new user with no cookies or stored credentials. “I looked around for an official disclosure from Stripe about this behavior, but I couldn’t find anything,” adds Lynch. “The closest I found is this vague paragraph on their npm package description, which the Stripe support rep quoted to me: ‘To best leverage Stripe’s advanced fraud functionality, ensure that Stripe.js is loaded on every page, not just your checkout page. This allows Stripe to detect anomalous behavior that may be indicative of fraud as customers browse your website.’”

“The privacy policy is a bit more specific about the data they collect, but it implies that they’re collecting this data on stripe.com rather than on customer sites,” writes Lynch. “Worryingly, the privacy policy also includes loose wording that allows Stripe to sell this data to advertisers: ‘When you visit our Sites or online services, both we and certain third parties collect information about your online activities over time and across different sites to provide you with advertising about products and services tailored to your individual interests.’”

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