Did you know that Google is tracking your personal online activity on the web by sidestepping the privacy settings on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari browser? Recently when Apple reported that Google was using their Safari browser to track what their users are doing on computers, tablets and notebooks, Microsoft investigated if Google is doing the same on their browser.

When Microsoft was looking into this, they also discovered that Google was bypassing security settings on Internet Explorer by stealing cookies through a different kind of hack. Microsoft asserted that the search engine giant was stuffing Internet Explorer with various cookies to track them without their consent or knowledge. Google responded to this by saying that Microsoft was using impractical and outdated standards for their browser.

How did Google do this?

Google worked around Internet Explorer’s “Platform for Privacy Preferences” by using a nuance that requires the web browsers to ignore any undefined policies it found. Microsoft claims that Google is sending P3P CP (Compact Policy) in  a form that is not readable by machines.

For Apple’s Safari web browser, Googled used an iframe, which loaded a new page containing a “meta refresh” to a Google ad link. When a user logs into Google, the user was first sent to the authentication service by Google and later to DoubleClick.  If a user doesn’t log into Google, the browser was redirected back to Google’s DoubleClick advertisement platform.

What can you do if you are using Internet Explorer?

If you are an Internet Explorer user (I’m just using it for testing), you can use Internet Explorer 9 which has an additional privacy feature called “Tracking Protection”. This blocks the method Google is using to track what pages you visit. If you have this additional privacy setting “off” or you are using an older version of IE, you may be susceptible to Google.

What do you think about Google bypassing Internet Explorer’s and Apple’s Safari web browser capability to block cookies and prevent user reporting statistics? Do you feel that Google is most likely doing the same on other popular browsers such as Firefox? Are you against or for Google?

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