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A group of privacy researchers (including some responsible for the excellent privacy studies done by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology) have an interesting paper out this week in the Harvard Law & Policy Review on behavioral advertising. In the paper, the authors (Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Ashkan Soltani, Nathaniel Good, Dietrich J. Wambach, and Mika D. Ayenson) argue against the idea that privacy-protecting regulations somehow take choice away from consumers who are grown-up enough to fend for themselves. Such arguments are currently being thrown around in an attempt to forestall Do Not Track from being implemented (as I discussed here ).
By Zachary M. Seward A Journal investigation documents the new, cutting-edge uses of cookies and other surveillance technology online. When you visit the nation’s 50 most popular websites, we found, an average of 64 trackers are installed on your computer. A dozen of those sites install more than a hundred trackers. ( Wikipedia installs none.) Many of these trackers are used to create rich databases of consumer profiles that can be sold to marketers and used to target online advertising at your particular behaviors and interests.
Twitter do not track
Do-Not-Track extension for G Chrome
Mozilla issues do-not-track guide for advert
<img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-38776" title="browser-cache-cookie" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/business/2011/07/browser-cache-cookie-660x654.gif" alt="" width="660" height="654" /> Researchers at U.C. Berkeley have discovered that some of the net’s most popular sites are using a tracking service that can’t be evaded — even when users block cookies, turn off storage in Flash, or use browsers’ “incognito” functions. The service, called KISSmetrics , is used by sites to track the number of visitors, what the visitors do on the site, and where they come to the site from — and the company says it does a more comprehensive job than its competitors such as Google Analytics. But the researchers say the site is using sneaky techniques to prevent users from opting out of being tracked on popular sites, including the TV streaming site Hulu.com.
IDG News Service - Critics were worried that the European Union's privacy directive on browser cookies could make virtually every website in Europe illegal. But most EU member countries ignored the May 25 deadline to implement the directive, so e-commerce didn't skip a beat. Only Denmark, Estonia and the U.K. have taken steps to implement the privacy directive, said Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for the European Commission, and even those efforts may not be fully compliant with the policy. EU countries have had two years to establish laws implementing the so-called cookies directive, which requires companies to obtain "explicit consent" from Web users before storing the small pieces of code that are often installed on a user's computer when visiting websites.
Flash cookies are a new way of tracing your movement and storing a lot more information about you than with normal cookies. One major disadvantage of flash cookies is that you can't locate them in your browser. They are not shown in the list of cookies that you can see when you take a look at the cookies that are currently saved in your web browser.
The topic of cookies seems to come up more as part of the larger privacy discussion. There are apparently cookies creeping into our information, taking bits of us and sending it to anyone who we can imagine wouldn’t want to see it. All of the search engines use them, the advertisers, Facebook and social networks. With all of this fear, uncertainty and doubt floating around it seems like a good time to look at the basics. Understanding what cookies are and what they are capable of will help us all use the web a little better.
FTC recommends self regulation
By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries Technology start-up PubMatic is launching a new tool to help websites determine how many tracking files are being installed on users’ computers. The dashboard for PubMatic’s Data Firewall. The move comes as online tracking is being heavily scrutinized by Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. The Wall Street Journal’s What They Know series has documented the scope and intrusiveness of the tracking technologies being used by marketers and data collectors. PubMatic’s tool allows websites to determine not only how many tracking tools the site itself is installing, but also how many tracking tools are being installed by advertisers without the website’s knowledge.
Posted Sep 20, 2010 9:13 AM CDT By Debra Cassens Weiss At least six new lawsuits are challenging online cookies that track Internet users’ browsing habits, claiming the modern tracking tools defy or inhibit deletion. Court rulings in 2001 and 2003 found that cookies were legal, the Wall Street Journal reports. The new suits, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claim that those holdings don’t apply to new, more sophisticated tracking technology.
Ask any parent what are the greatest dangers to kids online, and you're likely to hear about scary individuals: the pedophile masquerading as a friend on a social site, game, or virtual world (such as those sensationalized on To Catch a Predator ); the bullying schoolmate who taunts online; the inconsiderate, callous, or hormone-addled peer who posts inappropriate pictures or encourages one's little angel to "sext." Scary companies and commercial interests, however, fall low on the list of concerns, if at all. In my experience, most adults either don't think about the collection and sale of children's online activity, or accept it as an unavoidable cost of using Web services. The Federal Trade Commission is a case in point. The FTC is in charge of review and enforcement of COPPA (the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act), and educates parents about online safety with its Net Cetera site and guide.
By STEVE STECKLOW A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that popular children's websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites aimed at adults. A Wall Street Journal investigation concludes how many tracking technologies are being installed on PC's by children's websites. Julia Angwin and Jen Valentino-DeVries tell Lauren Goode what parents can do to protect their kids' privacy online - and what moves are being made by regulators that would restrict invasive tracking. The Journal examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what tracking tools they installed on a test computer.
<img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-19268" title="program_data" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2010/09/program_data-660x408.jpg" alt="" width="660" height="408" /> A New York mobile-web advertising company was hit Wednesday with a proposed class action lawsuit over its use of an HTML5 trick to track iPhone and iPad users across a number of websites, in what is believed to be the first privacy lawsuit of its kind in the mobile space. The company, Ringleader Digital , uses HTML5′s client-side database-storage capability as a substitute for the traditional cookie tracking employed by all major online ad companies. Mobile Safari users visiting sites with Ringleader ads are assigned a unique ID number which is stored by the browser, and recalled by Ringleader whenever they revisit. But the tracker, labeled RLDGUID, does not go away when one clears cookies from the browser.
By Emily Steel As part of the Journal’s investigation of surveillance technologies online, Digits asked readers to submit questions about technology and privacy. Several readers asked about what happens when cookies are deleted, and one posed the following question:
There is a debate happening in the industry right now about the impact cookies (the tiny piece of code dropped by publishers on your browser to help keep track of certain information) are having on privacy. The debate was set off by The Wall Street Journal with “The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets” , which explores the myriad ways marketers are using tracking technologies to reach and influence consumer decisions. One of the more insightful analyses of this debate came from Josh Chasin of comScore in a post he wrote for MediaPost entitled, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Cookie Monster.” Despite the fact that Mr.
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