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Privacy Lawsuit Targets Net Giants Over 'Zombie' Cookies

Jul 28, 2010, 16:04 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ryan Singel)

"A wide swath of the net's top websites, including MTV, ESPN, MySpace, Hulu, ABC, NBC and Scribd, were sued in federal court Friday on the grounds they violated federal computer intrusion law by secretly using storage in Adobe's Flash player to re-create cookies deleted by users.

"At issue is technology from Quantcast, also targeted in the lawsuit. Quantcast created Flash cookies that track users across the web, and used them to re-create traditional browser cookies that users deleted from their computers. These "zombie" cookies came to light last year, after researchers at UC Berkeley documented deleted browser cookies returning to life. Quantcast quickly fixed the issue, calling it an unintended consequence of trying to measure web traffic accurately.

"Flash cookies are used by many of the net's top websites for a variety of purposes, from setting default volume levels on video players to assigning a unique ID to users that tracks them no matter what browser they use. (Disclosure: The last time we reported on this issue, we found that Wired.com used one to set video preferences.)"

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