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04/17/2005 Archived Entry: "Macromedia Flash becomes more of a problem"

LAST WEEK I MENTIONED ENCOUNTERING A MOVING AD on a web site. This ad drifted across the site's text, making the real content impossible to read unless one managed to get rid of the ad (which was almost impossible to do). Seems this ad probably used Macromedia Flash animation to do its dirty deeds. Flash is now becoming more and more known as a privacy problem. Web sites are using the Flash player to collect and store data on you, even when you've turned off cookies.

Media players in general seem to be a culprit, but Flash is so widespread, has so many uses, and operates so automatically it's a special problem.

Macromedia offers instructions (follow the link in the above article) on how to change your Flash settings to protect privacy but -- Catch-22! -- you cannot carry out the instructions unless you visit Macromedia with 1) the very latest Flash player, 2) one of their specifically supported browsers, 3) cookies enabled, and 4) Javascript enabled.

You'd do all that to protect your privacy from their technology? Riiiiiight.

I'm not sure to what extent having an unsupported browser, no cookies, etc. also offers protection against those who use Flash as spyware.

I'd hate to think of giving up Flash (what, no more visits to JibJab? But that may be the course of wisdom. Perhaps the Chivalrous Tech Geeks of The Claire Files Forums will have some insights on this.

Posted by Claire @ 10:24 AM CST

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