Chrome getting Flash cookie protection

Flash Player's ability to store data could subvert people's attempts to clear out browser cookies. Now Chrome is getting an option to clear Flash data, too.

Chrome lets people clear data stored by plug-ins such as Flash Player, helping to nip the idea of the "evercookie" in the bud.
Chrome lets people clear data stored by plug-ins such as Flash Player, helping to nip the idea of the "evercookie" in the bud. Google

For privacy fans or others who want to keep their computers free of traces of what they've been doing online, Google's Chrome browser is getting an option to make sure Adobe Systems' Flash Player isn't getting in the way.

Web sites often store details about a user in small text files called cookies that can record details such as usernames, browsing history, and advertisements that have been seen. But storage abilities in Flash mean that even if a person deletes regular cookies, a Web site could reconstruct particulars from Flash data. There are other storage mechanisms arriving in browsers, too, leading to the term "evercookie," but Adobe is trying to take care of its responsibilities with a beta of Flash Player 10.3 that lets browsers delete that data .

Now Chrome is getting a checkbox to take advantage of that feature.

"As of this week's Chrome Dev channel release, you can delete local plug-in storage data (such as Flash LSOs [local storage objects]) from within Chrome by clicking Wrench > Tools > Clear browsing data and selecting 'Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data,'" said Chrome programmer Bernhard Bauer in a blog post yesterday. Chrome also can be set to delete such data when people shut down the browser.

So far, Flash is the only known plug-in that takes advantage of the feature, Bauer said.

Mozilla helped Adobe and Google develop the feature , so expect Firefox, too, to add support at some stage for the Flash data deletion feature.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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