Friday, October 14, 2005


How serious are these ?? any privacy infringements?? pl enlighten on this issue
Just search : yahoo +web + beacon ..for more insight............................................

some Infowars story

some newsfactor story

read elsewhere..someone who informed abt this beacons in his egroups got his gps shut by yahoo..ennamo nadakuthu !!

This is what a friend recently asked me. This is not like the IIPM issue, where you would be sent a 'notarized email' and 'sued' for $2.7 million for writing about them. So, I decided to 'investigate' a little.

The Yahoo! Privacy! page on web-beacons is full of weasel words.

# Yahoo! uses web beacons to conduct research on behalf of certain partners on their web sites and also for auditing purposes.
# Information recorded through these web beacons is used to report aggregate information about Yahoo! users to our partners. This aggregate information may include demographic and usage information. No personally identifiable information about you is shared with partners from this research.
Usage information? Certain partners? Who are those partners?

If some country or its newest friend decides that I am a terrorist and wants to see what websites I visit, this would be certainly used against me! After all, this is the country where government blocks access to yahoogroups because some separatists in North East were using it, arrests the CEO of an auction site because some desparate IIT student (isn't that redundant?) sold a porn clip on that site, and the police closes down a five-star hotel's bar and arrests the manager and a bar-tender based on clandestine pictures of a private party taken and published in a vernacular newspaper.
"No personally identifiable information about you is shared with partners from this research".
-- This comes from the company that handed over 'personally identifiable information' of a journalist to 'comply with local laws.'

And, what do we see here?
Note: This opt-out applies to a specific browser rather than a specific user. Therefore you will have to opt-out separately from each computer or browser that you use.
The optout is for EACH COMPUTER AND BROWSER combination!!!
# Yahoo!'s practice is to include web beacons in HTML-formatted email messages (messages that include graphics) that Yahoo!, or its agents, sends in order to determine which email messages were opened and to note whether a message was acted upon
There is nothing wrong with companies auditing their advertising strategy, but this just takes things too far. Whey does Yahoo! need to know which emails I open or not? If I don't open an email from a particular sender, what would they do? Stamp it out as spam? The spam I receive has certainly not gone down!
In general, any file served as part of a web page, including an ad banner, can act as a web beacon. Yahoo! may also include web beacons from other companies within pages served by Yahoo! so that Yahoo!'s advertisers may receive auditing, research and reporting.
This is one reason why ads have to blocked, and I recommend the adblocking plugin for Mozilla Firefox.

With Yahoo! recently giving up details about a Chinese journalist, it won't be long before that friend would be sent to a certain place in Occupied Cuba (or its partner site in India!)


Jeevan said...

Good Information, nice post.

cosmicblob said...

Nice research. Many companies use "tracking cookies" to obtain such information about the user. While cookies are convenient things to have around to remember oft repeated information in various websites, they can also turn into a menace.

Many anti-spyware provide a feature to remove tracking cookies. It's a good idea to clear cookies frequently, or use such a tool to remove tracking cookies.