I’m glad the issue of “cookies” has finally been challenged on a big stage. Accusing Facebook of placing cookies on your computer in order to monitor your web surfing habits is an old illegal practice which is better known as “Spyware.” This article explains the latest news:
Facebook is getting more heat over two controversial practices–tracking users after they log out and new automatic “frictionless sharing.”
The tracking, done with cookies on users’ computers, has prompted criticism from lawmakers and now a lawsuit, while privacy groups and regulators in Ireland are concerned about a new sharing feature that automatically posts user activities to news feeds without users intentionally doing so.
A blogger wrote last weekend that he discovered that his Web surfing was being tracked by Facebook even after he logged out. Facebook admitted that it personalizes content by putting cookie files on user computers that remain even when users are logged out, but told CNET earlier this week that it quickly acted to remove uniquely identifying data from post-logout cookies and that it did not store or use that cookie data for tracking.
“This admission came only after an Australian technology blogger exposed Facebook’s practice of monitoring members who have logged out, although he brought the problems to the defendant’s attention a year ago,” according to the complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif., and reported on by Bloomberg today.
The lawsuit was filed by Perrin Aikens Davis of Illinois and it seeks class-action status. It seeks unspecified damages and ask the court to block the tracking based on alleged violations of federal wiretapping, computer fraud, and abuse laws, according to the report.
“We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told CNET in an e-mailed statement.
Also today, the Irish data protection commissioner plans to investigate Facebook’s privacy-related activities following complaints by privacy groups in Europe and the U.S., according to a Reuters report.
It’s been a rough week for the company. Yesterday, a collection of advocacy groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to ban Facebook’s “frictionless sharing” and new Timeline features announced at F8 last week. On Wednesday, two U.S. congressmen asked the FTC to investigate Facebook over the post logout cookies. And a Chicago company has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Facebook over the Timeline feature……Read More
A cookie is the term given to describe a type of message that is given to a Web browser by a Web server. The main purpose of a cookie is to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages or to save site login information for you.
When you enter a Web site using cookies, you may be asked to fill out a form providing personal information; like your name, e-mail address, and interests. This information is packaged into a cookie and sent to your Web browser, which then stores the information for later use. The next time you go to the same Web site, your browser will send the cookie to the Web server. The message is sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.
A Web server has no memory so the hosted Web site you are visiting transfers a cookie file of the browser on your computer’s hard disk so that the Web site can remember who you are and your preferences. This message exchange allows the Web server to use this information to present you with customized Web pages. So, for example, instead of seeing just a generic welcome page you might see a welcome page with your name on it…….Learn More
What are cookies in computers?
Also known as browser cookies or tracking cookies, cookies are small, often encrypted text files, located in browser directories. They are used by web developers to help users navigate their websites efficiently and perform certain functions. Due to their core role of enhancing/enabling usability or site processes, disabling cookies may prevent users from using certain websites.
Cookies are created when a user’s browser loads a particular website. The website sends information to the browser which then creates a text file. Every time the user goes back to the same website, the browser retrieves and sends this file to the website’s server. Computer Cookies are created not just by the website the user is browsing but also by other websites that run ads, widgets, or other elements on the page being loaded. These cookies regulate how the ads appear or how the widgets and other elements function on the page.For Managing cookies for different browsers see here
Standard uses for browser cookies
Website servers set cookies to help authenticate the user if the user logs in to a secure area of the website. Login information is stored in a cookie so the user can enter and leave the website without having to re-enter the same authentication information over and over.More information
Session Cookies are also used by the server to store information about user page activities so users can easily pick up where they left off on the server’s pages. By default, web pages really don’t have any ‘memory’. Cookies tell the server what pages to show the user so the user doesn’t have to remember or start navigating the site all over again. Cookies act as a sort of “bookmark” within the site. Similarly, cookies can store ordering information needed to make shopping carts work instead of forcing the user to remember all the items the user put in the shopping cart.
Persistent or tracking Cookies are also employed to store user preferences. Many websites allow the user to customize how information is presented through site layouts or themes. These changes make the site easier to navigate and/or lets user leave a part of the user’s “personality” at the site. For Information on session and persistent and tracking cookies, see here
Cookie security and privacy issues
Cookies are NOT viruses. Cookies use a plain text format. They are not compiled pieces of code so they cannot be executed nor are they self-executing. Accordingly, they cannot make copies of themselves and spread to other networks to execute and replicate again. Since they cannot perform these functions, they fall outside the standard virus definition……..Learn More
What about this Facebook Logout problem, are they fixing it? Yes and if you have Facebook go to “Security Settings” and you will see new features available. It seems that Facebook is coming clean and showing the social magnets how much more they know about user interactions and browsing tendencies “within” Facebook itself. But the issue of the “LIKE” and “Share” buttons are the real problem here because it can be found on a multitude of other websites that have nothing to do with Facebook. The Europeans call it illegal:
Facebook’s Like button today was found in violation of Germany’s strict privacy laws. Commissioner Thilo Weichert, who works for the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection(ULD) in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, said the social network’s plugin, which allows Internet users to express their appreciation of something online, illegally puts together a profile of their Web habits.
The ULD said if you visit Facebook.com or use a Facebook plugin such as the Like button, you should expect to be tracked by the company for two years: Facebook allegedly builds a broad profile for individuals not on the service as well as a more personalized profile of its members.
The ULD is demanding that websites in Schleswig-Holstein remove their Facebook Pages as well as the Like button from their websites by the end of September 2011. If they do not, they will face a fine of up to €50,000 ($72,000).
As for Internet users, the ULD is advising “to keep their fingers from clicking on social plugins” such as the Facebook Like button and not to set up a Facebook account if they wish to avoid a comprehensive profiling by Palo Alto. Profiles are personal information, but Facebook requires that its members use their actual name, the organization points out…….Read More
And there’s more problems coming, in the form of Apps:
While the focus of today’s Facebook announcements was the new Timeline profile, the Read, Watch, Listen media sharing apps have generated a lot of interest too. These so-called “social apps” haven’t been widely launched yet, but you can get a sense of what they will do by adding a couple of brand new newspaper social apps to your Facebook profile: The Guardian’s app and one from Washington Post. Be forewarned though, with these apps you’re automatically sending anything you read into your Facebook news feed……Read More
This link was from an interesting article I read:
Yesterday I wrote that Twitter should be scared of Facebook. Today it’s worse. I, as a mere user of Facebook, am seriously scared of them.
Every time they make a change, people get angry. I’ve never myself been angry because I have always assumed everything I post to Facebook is public. That the act of putting something there, a link, picture, mini-essay, is itself a public act.
This time, however, they’re doing something that I think is really scary, and virus-like. The kind of behavior deserves a bad name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking.
What clued me in was an article on ReadWriteWeb that says that just reading an article on their site may create an announcement on Facebook. Something like: “Bull Mancuso just read a tutorial explaining how to kill a member of another crime family.” Bull didn’t comment. He didn’t press a Like button. He just visited a web page. And an announcement was made on his behalf to everyone who follows him on Facebook. Not just his friends, because now they have subscribers, who can be total strangers.
Now, I’m not technically naive. I understood before that the Like buttons were extensions of Facebook. They were surely keeping track of all the places I went. And if I went to places that were illegal, they would be reported to government agencies. Bull Mancuso in the example above has more serious things to worry about than his mother finding out that he’s a hitman for the mob. (Both are fictitious characters, and in my little story his mom already knows he’s a hitman.)
There could easily be lawsuits, divorces, maybe even arrests based on what’s made public by Facebook.
People joke that privacy is over, but I don’t think they imagined that the disclosures would be so proactive. They are seeking out information to report about you. That’s different from showing people a picture that you posted yourself. If this were the government we’d be talking about the Fourth Amendment…….Read More
Would it be recommendable to continue with this article or would it be just repetition? Just with the information provided here, anyone and everyone would agree that there is no real privacy on the internet. But I mentioned it at the start of this piece, the internet is Public. Facebook is in the business of recruiting more users, so they will use all the tricks possible to keep their reputation strong, it’s all about numbers. Sure, you can adjust these features but they are so hard to get to. If one uses Facebook as a promotional tool, then it’s great! Keep it like that though, don’t get personal!
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My name is Jose Reyes and this here blog will be dedicated to OP/ED articles. Strictly Editorials and Opinion pieces only. Current news and/or general non-current topics which I feel are important. ALL are invited to publish their Editorials and Opinions on this blog. Contact me and I will take a look at it. Most likely, it will be published.
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