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Microsoft says Google bypassed privacy settings in Explorer too, fails to mention similar violations by Facebook or Bing

By Debjit on February 23rd, 2012 

Last week, Microsoft announced that Google had been circumventing privacy settings on Apple Safari, violating user privacy by placing cookies that track users on the web. This week, Microsoft has gone further and attacked Google again for having done the same with Internet Explorer's privacy settings as well.

The company released a blog post this week claiming it had fresh findings to prove that Google had been indulging in this activity, but at the same time made no mention about Facebook doing the same, even though the existence of such violations was found two years ago.

Internet Explorer 10
Internet Explorer 10

The fact that sites like Google and Facebook are circumventing privacy settings on IE was revealed in a study in 2010 which showed that about a third of sites visited through IE had an error that allowed cookies to be placed. But by writing another blog post about the same and only attacking Google in it, Microsoft is only looking to play some politics here.

This is what Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President of IE, wrote in the blog -

“Google is employing similar methods (to what it employed with Safari) to get around the default privacy protections in IEand track IE users with cookies. …We’ve also contacted Google and asked them to commit to honoring P3P privacy settings for users of all browsers.”

He further wrote “IE blocks third-party cookies unless the site presents a P3P Compact Policy Statement indicating how the site will use the cookie and that the site’s use does not include tracking the user. Google’s P3P policy causes Internet Explorer to accept Google’s cookies even though the policy does not state Google’s intent…. Google sends a P3P policy that fails to inform the browser about Google’s use of cookies and user information. Google’s P3P policy is actually a statement that it is not a P3P policy.”

Although Microsoft asked Google to honor the P3P protocol, Facebook has previously made it clear that P3P is not a universally accepted web standard. Adding to this is a blog post by technologist Nik Cubrilovic had this statement -

“The organization that established P3P, the World Wide Web Consortium, suspended its work on this standard several years ago because most modern web browsers do not fully support P3P. As a result, the P3P standard is now out of date and does not reflect technologies that are currently in use on the web, so most websites currently do not have P3P policies.”

Thus, Microsoft's attempt to attack its biggest rival has in fact turned out to be an exercise in futility. What Google had to say about Microsoft's recent blog posts is also equally interesting.

Google blogged and said, “Microsoft uses a ’self-declaration’ protocol (known as ‘P3P’) dating from 2002 under which Microsoft asks websites to represent their privacy practices in machine-readable form. It is well known - including by Microsoft - that it is impractical to comply with Microsoft’s request while providing modern web functionality.

We have been open about our approach, as have many other websites.” It also asked Microsoft to fix the P3P loophole in IE which is used not just by Google but by Facebook as well, instead of complaining about it.

Source: zdnet and Venturebeat, image


Microsoft says Google bypassed privacy settings in Explorer too, fails to mention similar violations by Facebook or Bing was originally published on on February 23, 2012 - 1:48 am (Indian Standard Time)