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Microsoft shuts down MSNcom supercookie after Stanford researcher exposes it

first_imgWebsites track us. They have for a long time, and they’re probably never going to stop. Browser and add-on developers offer ways to prevent certain types of tracking, and basic measures are easy enough to avoid provided you understand how to manage and delete browser cookies. A certain breed of tracking takes things to another level, however: the supercookie. Back in 2010, programmer Samy Kamkar unveiled Evercookie, the unkillable tracking cookie that utilized 8 different local storage systems (including HTML5 LocalStorage and Flash LSOs).It generated a lot of negative responses — the kind of backlash that made Evercookie look like privacy-trampling tech that no high-profile website would dare touch. It seems, however, that MSN thought the supercookie was suitable enough. Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer recently singled out MSN.com for using a cookie that could respawn like so many unwanted enemies in your favorite FPS. Supercookies aren’t just hard to get rid of, either. They can also store a whole lot more data about us than a typical cookie, which can carry just 4KB (which is still an awful lot of text-only information).In addition to using a supercookie, Mayer noted that Microsoft’s opt-out button failed to render when sites were browsed with either Safari or Google Chrome — though that in itself isn’t a total shock, especially if their designers are still coding sites primarily for Internet Explorer users.Microsoft has moved quickly now that the privacy gaffe has been exposed and has removed the supercookie from MSN.com. Mike Hintze, part of Microsoft’s massive legal team, announced that the code Mayer observed was only utilized in certain circumstances on Microsoft’s own sites and was already scheduled to be killed off.With Microsoft’s attention to privacy on Bing.com and in Internet Explorer, it’s quite surprising that they hadn’t killed this more swiftly on MSN. Turning off the amped-up tracking makes it look more like they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, so to speak.More at Stanford Law and  Computerworldlast_img

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