Friday, February 17, 2012

PointRoll, others reportedly bypassing privacy settings of millions of Safari Web browser users

From a Wall Street Journal story published online late last night:

PointRoll, Google and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple's Web browser on their iPhones and computers -- tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.

The companies used special computer code that tricks Apple's Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users. Safari, the most widely used browser on mobile devices, is designed to block such tracking by default.

A spokeswoman for Gannett described its use of the code as part of a "limited test" to see how many Safari users visited advertisers' sites after seeing an ad. PointRoll's coding was found in some ads on

"We were unaware this was happening on and are looking into it further," a Journal spokeswoman said.


  1. As though privacy exists on a computer. I got carry-out from a restaurant for the first time and when I paid with my bank card she said, "How was your... oh it's your first time, I hope you enjoy it." She said she was going to ask how my exact meal was the last time I went there, and that they track the specific meals that a card pays for.

    Right now on my Gmail they keep saying "Our new privacy stuff is important, you should read it." They can legally wash their hands, but I'm not interested in spending the time poring over opaque legalese that's been written in a way to let them do whatever they're trying to do anyway. Whether I've checked all the right, constantly-changing boxes to try to prevent this, or not, I'm skeptical there's much of a difference.

    The more internet becomes a part of our lives, the faster it's going to accelerate behind the scenes. Hopefully any resulting damage isn't too terrible, because there's not much anyone can really do about it beside find a way to become one of the Arrow People.

  2. Pointroll is pretty desperate these days. It's about time someone unveiled Pointroll's use of persistent cookies and flash cookies. I have seen this company just fall apart over the past two years.

    Everyone here talks about what it was like back in the early days and how much more fun it was back then. Today, we are losing business, changing our technology so that we track web browsers in ways that violate consumer protection and we have an executive team that have checked out.


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