Feeds

FTC urged to probe Google's Safari-tracking gaffe

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.