Report: Google, others circumvent Safari privacy settings

Seattle Pi


Late Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google and several other advertising companies are bypassing the privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser — “tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.”

The story was based on research by Stanford graduate student Jonathan Mayer, who has turned out a growing body of literature in this area.

The story has set off a debate in the tech blogs about what exactly Google and others were doing and why, and how big of a deal it all is.

Chris Hoofnagle, a privacy expert at UC Berkeley’s law school, countered that counterpoint in an e-mail interview with The Chronicle.

    There is always a competitive element when one company tries to provide some privacy solution.  Look at Abine, Reputation.com or LifeLock — all of these companies have a competitive advantage in pushing privacy protection.

    One reason why Google created Chrome is so that they could control the user experience and their privacy controls.

    Apple operates from an entirely different frame.  Instead of spreading mediocre “free” products, the user pays for Apple products, and thus the customer is the consumer.  For Google and the cabal of “free” service providers out there, the customer is the advertising industry.