News24

Google bypassed Apple privacy settings

2012-02-17 18:51

New York - Google and other online advertisers bypassed the privacy settings of an Apple web browser on iPhones and computers in order to survey millions of users, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The Journal said the companies used a special code that tricks Apple's Safari software into letting them monitor the browsing habits of many users.

Safari - the default browser on iPhones and Mac laptops - is designed to block such tracking by default, the Journal said.

The Journal said Google disabled the code after the newspaper contacted it and that Google removed a message on its website saying users could rely on Safari to prevent the search giant from tracking them.

It quoted Google as saying the Journal "mischaracterises what happened and why".

"We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information."

The Journal quoted an Apple official as saying the company was "working to put a stop" to the circumvention of the privacy settings.

The code was first spotted by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer and independently confirmed by Ashkan Soltani, a technical adviser to the Journal.

Google and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

Comments
  • Glyn - 2012-02-17 19:43

    Google is fast going down in my estimation.

      Christo Crous - 2012-02-17 21:16

      Big Brother is monitoring every move we make. I stumbled across my online browsing history by mistake. All the sites I visited in the last four years..minute by minute..nicely stored online.. Doesn't matter if you replace or reload..like most people will presume..all on the internet..

  • Nick Rogerson - 2012-02-18 07:18

    Does it really matter at the end of the day. Just saying who is Piet van Scalkwyk from Poffadder amongst 2 billion others being tracked. Just another number being tracked if you ask me.

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