Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Disney Internet group sued for breaking privacy policy

Dan Goodin reports in the Register that Disney internet division is being sued, along with Clearspring Technologies, Warner Brothers and several other companies for using "locally shared objects," also known as flash cookies to track users across multiple sites.

According to the complaint, the sites use Flash cookies without giving users an appropriate explanation of what Flash cookies are and what they do. Flash cookies are a problem. They are difficult to remove, and once they're removed they can respawn without losing the data from the deleted cookie. Compared to regular cookies, Flash cookies can hold a lot more data can share data across domains. That means that multiple sites (i.e. Disney and Warner Brothers) can share data about what you do on their sites. That's not possible with normal browser cookies.

Flash cookies are a real problem. Adobe has officially stated that such use of Flash was never intended and they are against the policy. But Flash cookies have been around for years and Adobe still hasn't provided an easy way to delete them and/or keep them from respawning.