[LINK] RFI: Intrusive Internet Mechanisms

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Nov 29 11:14:46 AEDT 2010

I'm trying to write a succinct summary of the way in which intrusive 
Internet mechanisms were once the province of 'miscreants and 
criminals', but are now in mainstream use by corporations.

The context is evidence to be provided this week to the Senate 
Committee that's currently considering 'the adequacy of protections 
for the privacy of Australians online'.

I'd greatly appreciate reactions, clarifications, references and of 
course criticisms, re the draft text below.

Corporations have subverted the architecture and infrastructure of 
the Internet generally and the Web in particular, in order to provide 
themselves with greater capacity to breach the security of consumer 
devices and invade consumers' privacy.  Important examples include 
the following:

*   Microsoft's ActiveX mechanism creates vulnerabilities within 
consumer devices by enabling software to operate on the device in a 
manner that cannot be controlled by the device's user

*   outside the Microsoft environment, similar power has been made 
available to developers through new features and techniques commonly 
referred to as AJAX (an acronym derived from 'Asynchronous JavaScript 
and XML')

*   the Firefox web-browser, from version 3.5 onwards, is 
marketer-friendly and consumer-hostile by virtue of its support for 
privacy-invasive programming

*   the Flash add-on software for web-browsers, which is currently 
the most common means of supporting both video and animation, 
includes spyware functions that breach consumer privacy

*   the emergent new standard HTML5 may moderate some of the negative 
impacts of AJAX and Flash, but in the process it may further empower 
developers and enable intrusions into data, including geolocation 
data, and into the behaviour of consumer devices and of consumers 

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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