In the March episode of The Privacy Blog Podcast, I’ll run down some of the major privacy news events of the last month. Learn how Facebook “Likes” can paint an extremely detailed and eerie picture of your real-life character traits. I’ll provide my take on Google’s Street View Wi-Fi sniffing controversy along with how “Do Not Track” flags are affecting the everyday Internet user. We’ll then touch on the implementation of the “Six Strikes” copyright alert system that was recently adopted by all five major ISP providers. Stay tuned until the end of the episode to hear about Anonymizer’s exciting new beta program for Android and iOS devices. Thanks for listening!
The fight over the "do not track" flag continues.
In the latest version of Internet Explorer (version 10), Microsoft has made "do not track" the default setting. This makes tracking by websites an "opt in" rather than an "opt out" proposition. Privacy advocates have long favored this approach, but advertisers don't like it.
Yahoo feels so strongly about this that they say that they will ignore the Do Not Track (DNT) flag when coming from IE 10 browsers. The open source Apache web server is also going to come configured to ignore the IE 10 DNT flag.
So, even if you explicitly want Do Not Track, and would have gone in and manually enabled it, you will be tracked by Yahoo anyway.
Ironically, this means that if you actually want to not be tracked, you need to use a different browser and manually enable the setting.
I do appreciate the effort Microsoft, and shame on you Yahoo.
While I am encouraged to see the recently announced Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, it is no reason to become complacent about your privacy.
First, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is a set of fairly general statements. It is unclear if or when we would see real enforcement.
Second, it will be very difficult to enforce this against non-US services, and it is almost impossible for a user to know if some or all of a website she is visiting is being provided by a non-US company.
Third, it is very difficult to tell if the policies are being violated. Unless the website uses the information directly and immediately it is very hard to tie the use of information back to the source of the information. If it is being silently collected, you really can't tell.
While such policies and statements of principle are a good thing, and one hopes that most major websites will get on board with them, if you actually want to ensure your privacy, you need to take matters into your own hands.
Block cookies, clear out old cookies, and hide your IP address with tools like Anonymizer Universal.