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FTC in talks with Adobe about Flash tracking cookies

updated 12:25 am EST, Sat December 4, 2010

Adobe cookies unaffected by standard controls

The FTC is taking an active interest in the way Adobe's Flash installs its tracking cookies, according to a report. Privacy advocates have been arguing that the Adobe Flash Player, installed in up to 98 percent of PCs around the world, does not allow standard privacy controls to delete its Flash cookies. Critics argue that when users use privacy controls to stop cookies being set, or delete existing cookies, that this function works for all other apps and plug-ins except for Flash.

The FTC has opened the matter to public comment over the next two months. In response Adobe has said that its cookies, or what Adobe refers to as its local shared objects, were not designed for tracking purposes. An Adobe spokesperson also said that Adobe does not stand for any tracking that takes place against a user's wishes.

Adobe also stated that the latest version of Google Chrome allows users to control Flash cookies from within the browser's privacy controls. However, Mozilla's Firefox or Microsoft's Internet Explorer do not currently support the removal of Flash cookies.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +16

    great keynote!

    ... our product will drain your battery, overload your CPU and bring your machine to a crawl, expose your computer to harm. thank you! thank you!

    but wait, there's one more thing...

  1. ChampagneBob

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2010

    +6

    Can't Get It Right...

    If Adobe can't get it right on PC's and Mac's how do they expect one to believe they will get mobile right?

    They keep bullshitting their way along to buy time..... one day they will declare it works and pretend that it always was functional.....meh!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Hank

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Dec 2010

    -14

    Another useless gov't agency

    Useless FTC, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):
    http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000190526

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008

    -2

    I have my doubts about how bad Adobe Flash

    is. After all, it is rather prevalent in the world of computing and everyone says Steve Jobs is wrong in not allowing it on the iOS platform. You don't really see anyone jumping to Apple's defense on how terrible Flash is supposed to be. I think most of the computing world is perfectly happy with Flash even if it does have some flaws. There are still some videos on youtube that won't play with ClickToFlash enabled in Safari even if allowed as an exception. I usually just launch Firefox or Chrome to play them. A popular site such as Vevo will not load videos with ClickToFlash enabled. Sure, I'd like to see all sites moving to HTML5, but it will likely take some time. Next year, iOS will be the lone mobile platform that doesn't support Flash (in time, even WP7 will be included). I'm not saying Flash is critical for iOS survival, but I can't tell whether Steve Jobs arguments against Flash are weakening or not. All I know is that iOS is Steve's baby and it's quite successful so I'll just go along with his judgment.

  1. Drunken Economist

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2009

    +1

    Flash = Windows

    Flash is the same weak sauce Windows is. It was made by Macromedia, a Windows shop, acquired by Adobe, whose primary platform is now Windows. Adobe has deluded themselves into thinking they're some type of 'platform' by allowing scripting and apps in Flash and Acrobat.

    All they have allowed is cross site scripting and the same type of weak sauce security model that has plagued Windows for decades.

    And if you want that weak sauce running amok on your Mac or iOS devices... you can be my guest.

    Even Steve Jobs, a MARKETING guy can see this kind of fail from miles off. Be happy that he wrote that letter to 'dumb it down' for the rest of you.

    -DRUNKY

  1. jay3ld

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2004

    +5

    Re: Can't Get It Right...

    What does this have to do with mobile? This is Adobe Flash in general.
    In case you didn't know, Flash stores "LSO" (Local Storage Objects or Flash Cookies) on your computer and may advertising services and others use this to track you. Such as your browsing habits and what you are viewing in their words "to provide more targeted advertising to your preferences".

    What it sounds like the FTC is doing, is saying something needs to change in order to better inform/protect those who use their browsers that simply removing cookies, is not removing the LSO/flash cookies.

    This is why I use a addon called "Better Privacy" on FireFox and have it set to just disallow everything expect my banking site.

  1. CmdrGampu

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2009

    +4

    Easy solution

    Quite some time back, I researched which folders the LSOs are kept in. Deleted everything in the folders then locked them. No more Flash cookies.

  1. Person Man

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jun 2001

    +1

    "Not designed for tracking"

    "Adobe has said that its cookies, or what Adobe refers to as its local shared objects, were not designed for tracking purposes."

    Yeah, well, what a company intends a feature to be used for and what it actually gets used for are two different things.

    When Netscape invented the cookie they never intended it to be used to track people, either. The fact is, if you're going to provide a method for websites to store content on a user's computer, sooner or later someone is going to use it to keep track of that user somehow.

  1. donmontalvo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2009

    0

    This is as bad as malware hackers

    A nice stiff fine and public lambasting seems to be the only way to get the message across to Adobe. Whoever is responsible in the Adobe management chain should be fired for allowing this subversive "hacking" technique to go unchecked. Adobe has become the 800 pound, unmanageable gorilla that needs to be taken down a notch. Let this be a wake up call for them.

    Don Montalvo
    Dallas, TX

  1. facebook_Jeff

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Dec 2010

    +1

    Tell Adobe to be Proactive About the Problem

    Who knows what decision the FTC will come to with this. What Adobe should do is take a little more initiative and just provide an API so people can more reasonably control Flash cookies. They say they never intended LSOs to be used for tracking, but they clearly are being used for just that. So why not own up and take responsibility for the security measures of their own product? If this sounds reasonable to you, click below to send a message and tell them to do their part to protect user privacy and security.
    http://www.change.org/petitions/view/tell_adobe_stop_allowing_malicious_flash_cookies_to_act_as_spyware

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