There's an interesting article in AdWeek discussing Mozilla's plans to eventually enable its Do-Not-Track feature by default in an upcoming version of its Firefox browser, which would effectively block third-party tracking cookies. Mozilla announced plans to implement DNT as a default setting months ago, though as recently as last month, the browser maker said it still needed to perform more testing. As it stands, there's no concrete release date for when Firefox will turn on the feature, we only know it's coming, and advertisers aren't the least bit happy about it.
Google has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle charges with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging the sultan of search placed tracking cookies on computers running Apple's Safari browser that effectively bypassed the browser's built-in privacy measures. It's the largest fine ever handed out by the FTC, and one the government organization hopes will serve as a deterrent to other companies who might look to profit at the expense of privacy.
The Federal Trade Commission recently issued its final privacy report with recommendations for best privacy practices for companies to follow, and in it, the agency lauded the Web's Do Not Track technology. It's a feature that's been getting a lot of attention lately, especially from browser makers, and now AVG is jumping on the Do Not Track bandwagon by integrating the technology into its free and paid security suites.
Think about all the things you've used your Internet for in the past 24 hours. You've probably checked your e-mail, updated your Facebook status, paid some bills through online banking, read about the latest happenings on your favorite news site, and took the time before bed to video chat with a far-flung childhood friend. Even after logging out and turning off your computer, the information you've just accessed or created continues to wander the great plains of the World Wide Web. This information that we leave behind about ourselves on a daily basis is known as our digital footprint.
Like stepping in wet concrete, these trails we unwittingly leave behind can be tough to erase. With the rise of identity theft, corporate tracking, and the ability of "Big Brother" to access our private data, it is more important than ever for Internet users to be aware of how past and future data can be erased and controlled more effectively.
Brooke Rutledge of Lafayett County, Mississippi, is taking Facebook to task over claims the social networking site is illegally tracking user behavior, even when they're not logged into the site. At the heart of the issue is a discovery by Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic that appears to show Facebook has the ability to track users across the Web on any page with a "Like" button or other Facebook integration.
Spotify, About.me, and over two dozen other websites got caught with their hands in KISSmetric's cookie jar and will have to defend themselves against a class action lawsuit filed by parties in Northern California. The class action suit accuses KISSmetric of mischievous monkey business in the way it continues to track Internet users even after they've deleted cookies and cleared their browser's cache, which you can read more about here.
Maintaining privacy as you surf the Web isn't rocket science, it's just a matter of knowing what you're doing and taking the proper steps to make sure sites aren't in hot pursuit. Manually deleting your browser cookies is one way to ensure a bit of privacy, and so is enabling your broswer's "Do Not Track" mechanism. If you're really worried about leaving behind bread crumbs, there's always so-called incognito browsing modes. Unfortunately, none of these work as well as you think.
Adobe has announced the release of Flash Player 10.3 for Android, Linux, MacOS, and Windows. The latest stable release of Adobe’s ubiquitous plugin packs a bunch of new features and security enhancements. But its most notable user-facing feature is the ability to clear hitherto hard-to-delete Flash cookies, or local shared objects (LSOs) as they are formally known, from the comfort of the web browser’s privacy settings. Hit the jump for more.
Deleting your browser cookies is supposed to throw websites off your trail, but that isn't always the case. All a determined website has to do is drop a backup cookie into Adobe Flash's local storage, so unless you clean that out as well, they can still track you. These so-called 'zombie cookies' aren't something that only obscure websites use, but according to InfoWorld.com, several prominent sites -- Disney, ABC, ESPN, MTV, and many others -- have been using this approach, and have ended up in court as a result.
So what, if anything, is Adobe doing to ensure a user's privacy isn't compromised?
"Since local storage allows sites and apps to remember information, there are concerns about the use of local storage to store tracking information – or of greater concern, to restore tracking information to a browser cookie that a user has intentionally deleted," Adobe's Emmy Huang wrote in a blog post. "This use of local data storage has raised questions about privacy. So we’re continually working to make sure that users have better control over the local data stored by applications running in Flash Player.
"Most recently, we’ve been collaborating with browser vendors to integrate LSO management with the browser UI. The first capability, one that we believe will have the greatest immediate impact, is to allow users to clear LSOs (and any local storage, such as that of HTML5 and other plugin technologies) from the browser settings interface—similar to how users can clear their browser cookies today."
Adobe claims it's working with Mozilla and Google to define a new browser API for clearing local data, and that you'll see this feature show up soon on the Google Chrome dev channel. After that, you can expect this capability to come integrated in all major browsers.