By Woody Leonhard
Way back in a 2008 column, I spotlighted one of the most insidious and least-known features on the Internet: Adobe Flash cookies that were not subject to the usual cookie rules.
Almost two years later, these special Flash cookies are still living in our PCs, and enterprising privacy-busters now use them to create zombie cookies — regular cookies that come back from the dead.
My Oct. 23, 2008, column, “Flash cookies are putting your privacy at risk,” described how data stored by Adobe’s Flash Player is beyond your browser’s control and how it could store more personal data than you’d suspect.
Flash cookies have now landed their manipulators in troubled waters. Last week, two well-known privacy attorneys, Dallas-based Joseph Malley and California-based David Parisi, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Quantcast, a Web page–ranking and audience-statistics firm. (A July 27 Wired Threat Level story on the lawsuit includes a link to a PDF copy of the filed court documents.)
The lawsuit claims class action status and lists additional defendants — a Who’s Who of online players including MySpace, ABC, ESPN, Hulu, JibJab, MTV, NBC Universal, and Scribd.