Monday, October 11, 2010

New Web Coding May Lead to Privacy Issues

By Matt Saler

On the front page of today’s New York Times, there is a story about HTML 5, the new web coding that is slowly being ushered in across the Internet over the next few years. The new coding system will be much more “user-friendly,” making it easier for those who browse the web to check email offline, shop, find the closest movie theater via their iPhone, and view online videos without having to download the newest version of Flash or whatever software they prefer.

Sounds like a nice improvement, right?

Problem is, as the story states…

“The new Web language and its additional features present more tracking opportunities because the technology uses a process in which large amounts of data can be collected and stored on the user’s hard drive while online. Because of that process, advertisers and others could, experts say, see weeks or even months of personal data. That could include a user’s location, time zone, photographs, text from blogs, shopping cart contents, e-mails and a history of the Web pages visited.”

Advertisers and others could see one’s history of web pages visited and potentially read another’s emails without permission? Does anyone not see a problem with this?

While it is noted that users can organize settings on their browsers to avoid such tracking, my guess is that the majority of Internet users are not even aware that such tracking exists.

I think that the makers of these Web browsers should take responsibility and aim to eliminate all tracking capabilities whatsoever, or at a minimum, stress to all users of their software that such tracking exists.

For a country that stresses a lot of freedoms, this certainly has a creepy “Big Brother” feel to it. Hopefully this story opens some eyes.

Matt Saler is a Senior Account Executive. Contact him at

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