NEWS13 January 2011

Adobe promises easy deletion of Flash cookies through browsers

Data analytics North America

US— Adobe is promising web users that unwanted Flash ‘cookies’ will soon be easier to delete thanks to a new API developed in partnership with browser companies.

Mozilla and Google – developers of Firefox and Chrome respectively – have been working with Adobe to allow users to clear what are technically known as ‘local shared objects’ (LSOs) from within the browser settings interface in the same way that traditional HTML cookies are removed.

Privacy groups have expressed concern in recent months at the use of LSOs by publishers and marketers to track people’s web behaviours. The technology has even been found to have been used to restore HTML cookies intentionally deleted by users – thus circumventing their privacy wishes. Lawsuits have been brought against companies alleged to have engaged in such practices.

Adobe made clear its opposition to so-called ‘respawning’ in comments submitted to the Federal Trade Commission last year, at which time it announced its intention to work with browser companies “to provide users the opportunity to control their Flash [LSOs] when they set their browser privacy setting”.

Previously, LSO settings could only be managed through the Flash Player Settings Manager, but privacy advocates complained many web users found that difficult to locate (requiring a right-click on Flash content and selecting ‘global settings’ from a menu).

Writing in a blog post Flash Player group product manager Emmy Huang acknowledged these shortcomings and said an upcoming redesign will make it “simpler for users to understand and manage their Flash Player settings and privacy preferences”.

“In addition,” she said, “we’ll enable you to access the settings manager directly from your computer’s Control Panels or System Preferences on Windows, Mac and Linux.”