Chris Soghoian blogs:
Three times over the past six months, web browsers’ referrer headers have played a major role in major privacy issues. Much of the attention has reasonably been focused on the websites that were leaking their users’ private data (in some cases, unintentionally, but at least in Google’s case, intentionally). It may be time to focus a bit of attention on the role that the web browser vendors play, and in the pathetic tools they offer to consumers to control this form of information leakage.
The root of the current focus by privacy advocates on the browser referrer header stems from a paper (pdf download) written two researchers last year, who found that Facebook, MySpace and several other online social networks were leaking the unique IDs of their users to behavioral advertising networks. Furthermore, according to a class action lawsuit filed last week, Facebook actually began to leak even more information to advertisers, including users’ names, starting in February of this year. It wasn’t until the Wall Street Journal called upMySpace and Facebook for quotes in May, that the two companiesquickly rolled out fixes (behold, the power of the media).
Read more on Slight Paranoia.