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Disney sued for spying on kids with 'zombie cookies'

submitted on August 17, 2010 by siggy38 in "Member's Lounge"

Walt Disney's internet subsidiary and several of its partners have been sued for allegedly using cookies based on Adobe's Flash Player to track highly personal information about their users, many of whom were minors.
Disney, Ustream, SodaHead, Warner Bros., and a number of other websites are spying on kids' Internet use, according to a lawsuit filed recently by a group of parents and their children.
The defendants allegedly collected personally identifying information about their users in order to sell the data, which includes video viewing habits, gender, age, race, education level, geographic location, sexual preference, what the users like to read, home address, phone number, health condition, and more.

  • 74935
    Posted by HouTex on August 17, 2010
    [reply] 2 0
    I was just reading about this! Eeek

    The question I have is - why did Adobe create this flash cookie technology in the first place? Seems to me they had stealth monitoring in mind! It was known as far back as 2007.
    Adobe's attorneys have stated to the FTC that their policy “condemns the practice of using Local Storage to back up browser cookies for the purpose of restoring them later without user knowledge and express consent.”

    A similar lawsuit was filed last month against Clearspring rival Quantcast, as well as a host of that company's clients, including ABC and NBC, who are doing the same thing.

    When you delete your cookies (the standard ones), you don't remove these flash cookies. They have the ability to serve as a backup, to restore the cookies you think you have removed.
    UC Berkeley researchers famously exposed the ability of Flash cookies to surreptitiously “respawn” deleted cookies. It served as a wakeup call about the uncanny persistence of the tracking files. What's more, Flash cookies can store up to 100 KB of data, 25 times more than normal cookies.

    On the other hand, why do I care if Disney and others know what sites I visit?
  • 74967
    Posted by HouTex on August 17, 2010 [reply] 0 0
    Here's another article about it from Wired, a year ago!
    "You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again"

    This was around the time that the UC Berkley study was published.
    More than half of the internet’s top websites use a little known capability of Adobe’s Flash plug-in to track users and store information about them, but only four of them mention the so-called Flash Cookies in their privacy policies, UC Berkeley researchers reported Monday.

    Unlike traditional browser cookies, Flash cookies are relatively unknown to web users, and they are not controlled through the cookie privacy controls in a browser. That means even if a user thinks they have cleared their computer of tracking objects, they most likely have not.

    Eeek Even the showed up in the report, with researchers reporting they found a Flash cookie with the name “userId.” The site does say in its privacy policy that it uses tracking technology but it does not mention Flash or tell users how to get rid of the Flash cookie.

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  • 75065
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    Posted by siggy38 on August 17, 2010
    [reply] 1 0
    If you use Firefox you can get rid of Flash cookies - including zombie cookies by using the BetterPrivacy add-on.

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