Feeds

FTC urged to probe Google's Safari-tracking gaffe

Choc Factory blames Apple's browser 'functionality' for ad slurp

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Google is once again under fire after a Stanford researcher discovered that the search giant and other advertising outfits have circumnavigated the privacy settings of millions of Apple Safari users.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google, Vibrant Media Inc, WPP PLC's Media Innovation Group LLC and Gannett Co.'s PointRoll Inc used code that "tricked" Safari into allowing users to have their online browsing habits tracked.

Apple's browser blocks most tracking by default with exceptions for websites that, for example, require interaction from a user – such as the filling in of an online form. Google claimed in a statement that the WSJ had "mischaraterised" the code used by the ad companies.

"We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled," the Chocolate Factory said. "It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information."

However, US lawmakers have once again expressed their concerns about Google's data-handling behaviour. A letter to the Federal Trade Commission penned by three Congressmen on Friday [PDF] demanded to know what - if anything - the regulator planned to do in response to Google's latest privacy gaffe.

Apple, meanwhile, told the WSJ that it was "working to put a stop" to the functionality that allowed Google and others to bypass the browser's privacy settings.

Google has since disabled the code, which installed a temporary cookie on the phones or computers of Safari users; the search biz's brainiacs had embedded code into some of its ads that fooled the Apple browser into thinking that a form was being submitted to Google.

Microsoft couldn't resist having yet another dig at its rival. Redmond - which makes tons of cash out of advertising - said in a blog post:

If you find this type of behavior alarming and want to protect your confidential information and privacy while you’re online, there are alternatives for you.

Windows Internet Explorer is the browser that respects your privacy. Through unique built in features like Tracking Protection and other privacy features in IE9, you are in control of who is tracking your actions online. Not Google. Not advertisers. Just you.

On 1 March, Google will be cutting and shutting most of its privacy policies into one terms-of-service document, in part to help the company cross-pollinate its ads on products such as YouTube. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.