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European Do Not Track Supporters Make Demands

October 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Supporters of the Do Not Track standard have warned its detractors that they won’t stand for any nonsense, and have given backers an encouraging nudge in the direction of fair implementation.

In Europe, Neelie Kroes, the VP of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, has just given a speech in which she cautioned the industry against ignoring Do Not Track, messing around with its standards or abusing the cookie system.

Speaking at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels she said, “Standardisation work is not going according to plan. In fact, I am increasingly concerned. About the delay, and about the turn taken by the discussions hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). I think that won’t come as a surprise to you. And I know that my colleagues across the Atlantic, at the Federal Trade Commission, feel the same.”

So what is the problem? According to Kroes the problem is a watering down of the standard, and she repeated her earlier calls for firm rules that actually protect the individual.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I will say it again today: the DNT standard must be rich and meaningful enough to make a difference, when it comes to protecting people’s privacy,” she said.

“It should build on the principle of informed consent, giving people control over their information. And, indeed, it must be designed to let people choose to not be tracked. The clue is in the name: do NOT track.”

European Minister though she might be, Kroes also aimed her warning at those American companies that ultimately could make or break the standard. She’s looking at the internet giants, and their implementation of the rules when she says that European regulators won’t stand for any nonsense.

“I mean everyone,” she said. “Including American companies. Because if you want to track Europeans, you have to play by our rules. Our new data protection framework is crystal-clear on that point.Including online businesses. In the long term, the online economy won’t grow if it acts against the grain, against the wishes of ordinary users, against their need for trust. And under such conditions, nor can online services prosper.”

Over the pond Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus co-chairs Joe Barton and Edward Markey expressed their disappointment at statements from the Digital Advertising Alliance that call for avoidance of the standard and ignoring of its guidance.

“Privacy is an issue that affects everyone, and the Digital Advertising Alliance’s announcement made clear that it puts profits over privacy. If consumers want to be tracked online, they should have to opt-in to be tracked, instead of the other way around,” they said.

“This is why we are disappointed to hear the Digital Advertising Alliance insist that it will not honor Microsoft’s “Do Not Track” default and will not penalise companies that ignore it.”

The Digital Advertising Alliance is a self regulatory group for online behavioural advertisers.


IE Re-gains While Chrome Loses Users In Browser Battle

April 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Internet Explorer posted another major uptick in users last month, the second in the first quarter of the year, which may be a sign of a turnaround in Microsoft’s fortunes, a Web metrics company said Sunday.

Meanwhile, every rival, including Google’s Chrome, which is usually the one stealing users, lost share.

Internet Explorer (IE) gained 1 percentage point during March, said measurement firm Net Applications, to end the month with a 53.8% share, its highest level since September 2011. Last month’s growth was the second this year of 1 point or more.

Chrome lost a third of a percentage point to close March with 18.6%, while Mozilla’s Firefox slipped by about the same to 20.6%, the open-source browser’s lowest number in more than three years.

Apple’s Safari and Opera Software’s desktop browsers also dipped, falling by two-tenths and one-tenth of a point, respectively, to 5.1% and 1.6%.

Chrome’s decline is especially notable, as March’s slide was the third consecutive month that Google’s once-hard-charging browser lost share. In the first quarter of 2012, Chrome has dropped more than half a percentage point, representing a 3% decline from the browser’s December 2011 number.

Previously, Net Applications has attributed Chrome’s skid to Google’s January demotion of the browser’s search ranking and then last month, to recalculations that eliminated the extra activity generated by Chrome’s pre-rendering feature.

Google restored Chrome’s search ranking last month.

Microsoft mentioned the overall gains of IE in passing on Sunday, but as it’s done for months, focused on increases of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9).

Net Applications calculates browser usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 Web sites that the company monitors. More browser share figures can be found on the company’s site.


Google Says Chrome Will Support ‘Do Not Track’

February 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google will add support for “Do Not Track” to its Chrome browser some time before the end of 2012.

The move is a reversal for Google, which has resisted supporting the technology that lets users opt out of the online tracking conducted by websites and advertisers.

Google’s change of heart came as the White House today pushed a privacy bill of rights and said it would introduce new online privacy legislation in Congress.

Chrome joins other browsers — Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) and Mozilla’s Firefox — which can already transmit special information with every HTTP page request that tells sites the user does not want to be tracked.

Apple’s Safari currently supports Do Not Track, although turning it on requires a user to select “Send Do Not Track HTTP Header” from the “Developer” menu on the browser; Apple will make the setting easier to find in the Privacy section of Safari’s Preferences pane this summer when it releases OS X Mountain Lion.

Opera, from the Norwegian browser maker Opera Software, does not support Do Not Track. Two weeks ago, however, Opera launched an experimental build of its desktop browser with support for for the anti-tracking technology.

Mozilla was the first browser maker to add Do Not Track support to its software.

The silver lining of today’s announcement is that Chrome’s adoption of Do Not Track puts the option in front of a majority of Internet users: According to Web metrics company Net Applications, the browsers that now, or will later this year, support the header request accounted for 98% of those used last month.


Buyer Beware:Android Malware Growth Explodes

November 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Mobile

Malware targeting Google’s Android mobile operating system has enjoyed explosive growth in the last several months, its volume quintupling since July, Juniper Networks said today.

The rash of infected apps aimed at Android users shows no sign of slowing down, said Dan Hoffman, Juniper’s chief mobile security analyst and a member of the company’s global threat center.

“We’re seeing a mix of the traditional hacking community [working] on malware very similar to organized efforts on the PC side, as well as people who are just a little smart, the ’15-year-old kid crowd,’ who are able to hide some malicious content in an app,” said Hoffman in an interview today.

According to Juniper’s research, the number of Android malware samples — each defining a different piece of attack code, or a variant of one discovered earlier — increased by 472% since July 2011. The bulk of that growth occurred in September and October.

“We’ve seen an exponential growth in Android malware over the last several months,” Juniper said in a blog post that accompanied Juniper’s recently-published mobile threat report.

The prime threat remains purposefully-malicious Android apps that are crafted by criminals, often pirated versions of legitimate applications, then planted in either Google’s official Android Market or in one of the scores of alternate download sites, which are especially popular in Asia — China in particular.

Juniper speculated that the hackers now crafting Android malware are those who used to specialize in Symbian and Windows Mobile attack code. But as those operating systems’ share plummeted — Web metrics company Net Applications put their shares during October at 3.5% and 0.07%, respectively, down from 8% and 0.2% a year ago — the criminals have abandoned those platforms and jumped on Android.


Microsoft Offering Freebies For Switching To IE9

November 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft on Friday launched a promotion to lure more Windows 7 users to adopt their Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) browser.

Windows 7 users who download Microsoft’s newest browser, then “pin” any of seven different websites to their taskbars, receive offers that range from a free month of Hulu Plus to a $5-off Fandango movie ticket.

Some of the offers are available immediately, while others become active later this month and during December.

When people using alternate browsers such as Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox on Windows 7 visit the promotional site, they see the message, “Where’s the love? … Upgrade to Internet Explorer to pin these sites and get the free stuff.”

Pinning, introduced in IE9, lets users add website shortcuts to the Windows 7 task bar for the same kind of easy access as locally-stored programs.

Users running Mac OS X who visit the free offers site see a different message: “Oh Nooooooo… You’re using Mac OS which doesn’t support Internet Explorer 9 and Site Pinning.”

Microsoft has been aggressively pushing IE9 as the best browser for Windows 7, and has regularly touted that edition’s gains in usage share even as other versions lose ground to Chrome and Apple’s Safari.

According to Web metrics company Net Applications, IE9 accounted for 22.5% of the browsers running worldwide on Windows 7 during October, an increase of 1.4 percentage points from the month before. Only Microsoft’s own IE8 sported a higher share.

Last month, IE overall lost the largest amount of usage share in three years, falling to 52.6%, putting Microsoft’s browser in danger of slipping under the 50% mark as early as January 2012.


IE To Control Less Than Half Of Browser Market By 2012

September 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) will lose its place as the most popular browser next summer, according to statistics published today by Web metrics company Net Applications.

If the pace of IE’s decline over the last 12 months continues, IE will drop below the 50% mark in June 2012.

In August, IE lost about seven-tenths of a percentage point in usage share, falling to 55.3%, a new low for the once-dominant browser. In the last year, IE has dropped 6.9 points.

But Microsoft continued today to stress the success of IE9, the edition launched last March, particularly on Windows 7.

On that newer operating system, IE9 accounts for 20.4% of all browsers globally, and 27.7% on Windows 7 in the U.S., said Roger Capriotti, director of IE marketing, in an interview said today.

“That’s how we measure success in the IE business,” said Capriotti, referring to Microsoft’s focus on IE9 and Windows 7.

IE9 runs on Windows 7 and Vista, but does not work on Windows XP, the decade-old operating system that still powers more of the world’s PCs than any other OS.

IE9’s overall uptake slowed in August compared to previous months, said Net Applications, which pegged the new browser’s increase last month at seven-tenths of a percentage point, slightly more than half that of July’s 1.3-point uptick and less than half of June’s 1.5-point boost.

One explanation for the slow-down may be that the IE9 automatic update offer — delivered through Windows Update to all Vista and Windows 7 users — wrapped up in June. Only Japan, where Microsoft delayed the upgrade because of the earthquake and tsunami disasters earlier this year, has not yet seen the offer.

Virtually all of IE’s decline over the last year — and a much less dramatic dip by Mozilla’s Firefox — has gone to Google’s Chrome browser, said Net Applications.

In the last 12 months, Chrome has jumped 7.8 percentage points to 15.5%; in August, Chrome surged by 1.2 points, its largest increase ever.