FTC, EPIC Marketplace and History Sniffing

The FTC recently reached a settlement with advertising company EPIC marketplace, regarding charges relating to ‘history sniffing’.

Well, the first question is, what is history sniffing? A group of researchers from the Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering University of California, San Diego, USA published a paper titled An Empirical Study of Privacy-Violating Information Flows in JavaScript Web Applications have defined it in detail “…..where a malicious site (say,attacker.com) can learn whether a user has visited a specific c URL (say, bankofamerica.com), merely by inducing the user to visit attacker.com. To this end, the attack uses the fact that browsers display links diff erently depending on whether or not their target has been visited…”

To put it simply it is when a malicious goes through a browser illegally to check what  sites the consumer has checked or browsed through before.

The reason this phenomenon is significant and relevant at this time is because it brings forth the importance of consumers being aware of best practices that companies should be following in their privacy programs and more importantly it is an indicator of how crucial it is for companies to have fully compliant privacy  policies that accurately represent their data collection practices.

As a consumer while one is browsing online, it might be a good idea to switch to browsers that have better privacy protections.

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