[LINK] Yet More Meddling by Google
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Feb 18 09:53:29 AEDT 2012
[Yet more meddling by Google, who have yet again failed to come clean
about their meddling until they've been caught out. Hundreds of
articles around the world on it, all prettymuch derivative from
Stanford and WSJ:
Google's iPhone Tracking
Web Giant, Others Bypassed Apple Browser Settings for Guarding Privacy
JULIA ANGWIN And JENNIFER VALENTINO-DEVRIES
The Wall Street Journal
17 February 2012
Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the
privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.'s Web browser
on their iPhones and computers-tracking the Web-browsing habits of
people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.
[Basically, it appears that Google was leveraging an insecurity
feature (i.e. an intentional insecurity rather than a bug) created by
Apple in its Safari browser.
[I'm close to giving up on Safari for other reasons. The old version
I'm stuck with under OSX 10.4 can't cope with the massive traffic
that assaults the browser from third-party 'syndicated' web-sites,
and is hopelessly slow.]
Google vows to quit stalking
February 18, 2012 12:00AM
GOOGLE Australia has moved to appease Australia's privacy watchdog
after its US parent was caught tracking millions of Apple customers
around the web without their knowledge.
A Wall Street Journal investigation published in the US yesterday
revealed Google and other advertising companies had routinely
bypassed privacy controls Apple built into its Safari web browser to
stop its customers being tracked online. Safari is used in millions
of iPhones, iPads and Apple computers.
[Remainder blocked by paywall.]
Google bypassed Apple privacy settings
February 18, 2012
The Sydney Morning Herald, copied from AFP, copied from WSJ
Google and other online advertisers have bypassed the privacy
settings of an Apple web browser on iPhones and computers to survey
millions of users, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Journal said on Friday the companies used a special code that
tricks Apple's Safari software into letting them monitor the browsing
habits of many users.
Safari - the most widely used browser on mobile devices and the
default browser on iPhones and Mac laptops - is designed to block
such tracking by default, the Journal said.
The Journal said Google disabled the code after the newspaper
contacted it and that Google removed a message on its website saying
users could rely on Safari to prevent the search giant from tracking
It quoted Google as saying: "We used known Safari functionality to
provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It's
important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect
The Journal quoted an Apple official as saying the company was
"working to put a stop" to the circumvention of the privacy settings.
The code was first spotted by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer and
independently confirmed by Ashkan Soltani, a technical adviser to the
Google and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:29:07 +1100
Subject: An update from Google
From: Ishtar Vij <ishtarv at google.com>
You may see this press coverage this morning.
The Wall Street Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We
used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in
Google users had enabled. It's important to stress that these
advertising cookies do not collect personal information.
Unlike other major browsers, Apple's Safari browser blocks
third-party cookies by default. However, Safari enables many web
features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party
cookies, such as "Like" buttons. Last year, we began using this
functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari
who had opted to see personalized ads and other content--such as the
ability to "+1" things that interest them.
To enable these features, we created a temporary communication link
between Safari browsers and Google's servers, so that we could
ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had
opted for this type of personalization. But we designed this so that
the information passing between the user's Safari browser and
Google's servers was anonymous--effectively creating a barrier
between their personal information and the web content they browse.
However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled
other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn't
anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing
these advertising cookies from Safari browsers. It's important to
stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do
not collect personal information.
Users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome were not affected. Nor
were users of any browser (including Safari) who have opted out of
our interest-based advertising program using Google's Ads Preferences
Ishtar Vij | Policy Counsel |
<mailto:ishtarv at google.com>ishtarv at google.com | +61 2 9374 4523
Public Policy and Government Affairs
Google Australia and New Zealand
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 Faculty of Law University of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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