BetterPrivacy Firefox Addon

[tweetmeme source=”franscomputerservices” only_single=false]BetterPrivacy Firefox Addon

Ever wondered why you are still tracked though you tried everything to prevent it?

BetterPrivacy is a safeguard which protects from usually not deletable LSO’s on Google, YouTube, Ebay…

This is a great addon. I had no idea I had so many of these and some dated back to 2006!

They don’t show up in your normal cookies area of the browers.

So what are LSOs (wikipedia.org):

Local Shared Objects (LSO), commonly called flash cookies, are collections of cookie-like data stored as a file on a user’s computer. LSOs are used by all versions of Adobe Flash Player and Version 6 and above of Macromedia’s now-obsolete Flash MX Player.

Privacy concerns

LSOs can be used by web sites to collect information on how people navigate those web sites even if people believe they have restricted the data collection. More than half of the internet’s top websites use LSOs to track users and store information about them. There is relatively little public awareness of LSOs, and they can usually not be deleted by the cookie privacy controls in a web browser. This may lead a web user to believe a computer is cleared of tracking objects, when it is not.

Several services even use LSOs as surreptitious data storage to reinstate traditional cookies that a user deleted, a policy called “re-spawning” in homage to video games where adversaries come back to life even after being “killed”. So, even if a user gets rid of a website’s tracking cookie, that cookie’s unique ID will be assigned back to a new cookie again using the Flash data as “backup.” In USA, at least five class-action lawsuits have accused media companies of surreptitiously using Flash cookies.

In certain countries it is illegal to track users without their knowledge and consent. For example, in the UK, customers must consent to use of cookies/LSOs as defined in the “Guidance on the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003”:

Cookies or similar devices must not be used unless the subscriber or user of the relevant terminal equipment:

* is provided with clear and comprehensive information about the purposes of the storage of, or access to, that information; and
* is given the opportunity to refuse the storage of, or access to, that information.

There is more information in the links at the bottom of that wikipedia article on LSOs. Here’s just one from EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) called EPIC Flash Cookie Page

If you install BetterPrivacy Firefox Addon, they have a very nice writeup on LSOs from the HELP button when looking at the options.

NOTE: The best part about BetterPrivacy is that you choose which ones to keep and which ones to delete. There are some sites that you likely will want to keep them and set them to be protected, but you certainly don’t need sites that you casually visit setting them and having them for years tracking your activities.

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