[telecom] Safari Trackers

Safari Trackers

by Jonathan Mayer, a grad student at Stanford Web Policy Feb 17 2012

Apple's Safari web browser is configured to block third-party cookies by default. We identified four advertising companies that unexpectedly place trackable cookies in Safari. Google and Vibrant Media intentionally circumvent Safari's privacy feature. Media Innovation Group and PointRoll serve scripts that appear to be derived from circumvention example code.

In the interest of clearly establishing facts on the ground, this post provides technical analysis of Safari's cookie blocking feature and the four companies' practices. It does not address policy or legal issues. (More on that soon.)

Before proceeding further, I want to thank the countless friends and colleagues who provided invaluable feedback on this project. In particular: [*****], whose insights have been vital at every step, and Ashkan Soltani, whose crawling data was instrumental in uncovering PointRoll's practices and understanding the prevalence of cookie blocking circumvention.


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***** Moderator's Note *****

The original text has five stars at the place where I substituted five asterisks. I assume that the five-star glyph is a symbol for the author formerly known as [printable name].

Bill Horne Moderator

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Monty Solomon
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