PC World looks into Web sites’ privacy-policy loopholes and offers some suggestions on how you can strengthen your privacy protections.
“We won’t share your information with third parties.” You’ve no doubt seen that common phrase in Web site privacy policies many times. You might think that the site in question won’t divulge details about your visit to other companies or organizations. But according to a study by privacy researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, sites have a huge amount of wiggle room with that promise.
The in-depth study dug into the privacy policies and tracking practices of the 50 most visited Web sites as listed by Quantcast. The researchers discovered that loopholes such as affiliate sharing and tracking code allowed for much more data sharing than you might expect. […]
While there’s no one simple solution, you can take some steps with browser settings and add-ons to help retain your privacy–steps that don’t require deleting all your cookies after every browsing session, which effectively throws the baby out with the bathwater by removing the cookies you may want (say, those that remember passwords or form data).
Internet Explorer 8’s InPrivate Filtering monitors content from third parties that frequently appears on other sites (something that often, but not always, signals a tracker) and either blocks such content by default or allows you to select it for blocking. […]
Firefox users can try a wide array of privacy-protecting add-ons. BetterPrivacy gets rid of Flash cookies, which some advertisers use and normally can’t be deleted. TACO creates behavioral-advertising opt-out cookies (the good kind) that will stick around even if you get rid of your other cookies. CookieSafe allows for fine-grained management of all cookies.