February 02, 2006

Yahoo's Web Beacons

I got a note today from a friend about yahoo's use of web beacons to track your surfing habits. The rumor is that if you belong to ANY Yahoo groups, a piece of code similar to a cookie will be downloaded and activated on your PC, tracking you wherever you surf -- even if you surf outside Yahoo's groups. Kinda scary stuff privacy-wise, but there's some info here on how to opt out.

"If you belong to ANY Yahoo Groups, be aware that
Yahoo is now using "Web Beacons" to track every Yahoo Group user. It's
similar to cookies, but allows Yahoo to record every website and every
group you visit, even when you're not connected to Yahoo.


In that section find a little "Click Here to Opt Out" a link that will
let you "opt-out" of their snooping. Be careful NOT to click on the
next button shown. It is an "Opt Back In" button that, if clicked, will
UNDO the opt-out.

Note that Yahoo's invasion of your privacy - and your ability to opt-
out of it - is not user-specific. It is MACHINE specific. That means
you will have to opt-out on every computer (and browser) you use. "

Now, an opinion regarding this. It seems very much like a doom and gloom story, which usually doesn't turn out to be true. Most of the time, stories like this turn out to be false, and the actions they recommend are either inane or downright harmful -- i.e., by taking the action to "protect" yourself, you're enabling the harmful actions itself.

So, be on the lookout for anything suspicious regarding this. If anyone hears that this is a hoax, please use the "comments" link and let us all know about it.

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