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    InformationWeek: Google Fixes Toolbar Privacy Flaw

    After a researcher’s report identified privacy problems with Google’s toolbar, the online search and cloud computing services company fixed the issue, reports InformationWeek:

    In a report published on Tuesday, Harvard assistant professor and security researcher Benjamin Edelman presented findings about a privacy flaw in the Google Toolbar, Web browser add-on software that makes Google Search more easily accessible through Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    In order to do things like compute the PageRank of visited Web pages or list Related Web Pages, the Google Toolbar sends the URLs of Web pages that users view to Google’s servers. The Google Toolbar does so only after the user allows this data to be sent.

    But the Google Toolbar turns out to be less attentive to users who seek to disable page tracking. Though a user may choose to disable the Enhanced Features that prompt Web page tracking, the Google Toolbar does not respond, at least until the user restarts his or her browser. […]

    Edelman acknowledges in a disclosure statement that he has served as a consultant for Google’s competitors and has litigated against the company on behalf of plaintiffs. But such relationships, though invariably mentioned by Google representatives, do not change the validity of his findings.

    Indeed, Google has acknowledged that its Toolbar wasn’t working as it should have been and has issued fix.

    “To be clear, this is only an issue until a user restarts the browser, and it only affects the currently open tabs for a small number of users,” said a Google spokesperson in an e-mailed statement.

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