Friday, February 5, 2010

Facebook Beacon Web Activity Tracking Service: Your Privacy For Sale

"Facebook's Beacon was released in early November as a part of its Facebook Ads platform. It is ostensibly designed to track the activities of Facebook users on more than 44 participating Web sites, and to report those activities back to the users' Facebook friends, unless specifically told not to do so.

The idea is to give participating online companies a way to monitor the activities of Facebook users on their Web sites and to use that information to then deliver targeted messages to the friends of those Facebook users."

[There was] "...a series of damaging disclosures by a CA Inc. security researcher that show that Facebook's tracking was far more invasive and extensive that the company originally let on."

" According to the researcher, Facebook's Beacon tracked the activities of users even if they had logged off from Facebook and had declined the option of having their activities on other sites broadcast back to their friends.

Likely to be even more damaging was another disclosure Monday afternoon that Beacon's tracking did not stop with just those of Facebook users. Rather, it tracks activities from all users in its third-party partner sites, including IP address data of people who never signed up with Facebook or those who deactivate their accounts.

Unfortunately, such tracking is not at all unusual in the online world -- it's far more the norm than the exception, Dixon said. "One of the things we have been saying about behavioral advertising is that people don't know it's happening.... You have to be tremendously technically savvy to know what is happening under the hood," she said."

- ComputerWorld Security - Facebook's Beacon just the tip of the privacy iceberg

- ComputerWorld Security - Facebook comes out swinging at critics of settlement offer in Beacon lawsuit


What can I really add to these articles? Read them.

Understand that the corporate universe is essentially unconstrained by anything but an activist core that finds these kinds of abuses.

Your elected representatives are for the most part clueless about how any of this stuff works - stuff - like computers and the internet. They may use one, but do they really have any clue what is going on behind all of it?


I am not advocating that every citizen, or every representative be put in some kind of computer awareness re-education camp, but a level of minimal awareness would be fine.

Or maybe some of the ossified boomers who run our show - politically or in government - could make the tiniest bit of room for younger people that have grown up with computer mediated technology. Maybe could work with them as equals instead of viewing them as a threat. (**** yes, yes, yes - personal baggage alert again... I have been vilified, mocked, deprecated, disciplined and even had a contract terminated when I insisted that privacy and technology issues be looked at and addressed by politicians/cabinet ministers I worked for. Being that my job is now as a technology and privacy officer no-one can terminate my contract for being on about these issues [oh, happy days!] ****)


  1. Actually, there's something that I've been wondering. I have an iPod Touch and I've switched off the location services from general settings but I've read many articles of these kind and I suppose it's Made me a little paranoid. Anyway, can my phone still be located even with location settings switched off. I know the i.p address can give an approximate location but in my case that location is way off, Thank God!