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ExtraTorrent.cc > Articles > Your Web Browser Knows Where You Are

Your Web Browser Knows Where You Are

Your Web Browser Knows Where You Are

Added: Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
Category: Recent Headlines Involving File Sharing > Ridiculous Criminal Trials
Tags:Appreciation, Browser, Firefox, Safari
Firefox and Safari on the iPhone can now report your physical location. But who are they telling
Allowing your Web browser to determine your physical location opens the door to some seriously nifty features. Some iPhone apps (such as Yelp for iPhone) can help you find nearby restaurants, bookstores, or other places within walking distance, for example. But such functionality, available in the newest Firefox and in Safari on the iPhone, also opens the door to some serious privacy concerns: Where you physically sit or stand at any given moment is deeply personal information that you don't want to give to just any site. I tried the new features to see how the browsers handle such privacy concerns.

Firefox 3.5 works in conjunction with the Google Location Service. If you visit a site that can use your location, a pop-up bar at the top of the page asks you to allow or block the request. Allow it, and Firefox sends your IP address and data about nearby wireless access points to Google. Clicking the ‘remember' box tells it not to ask you again for that site. Google then sends Firefox its best guess of your whereabouts, and Firefox sends that data to the requesting site. Google never learns which site wants the info; and though it uses a unique ID tag for your location requests, the tag is randomly assigned and resets every two weeks, so Google has no practical way to associate you with your browser's where-am-I's.

You can completely disable Firefox's location service by typing about:config in the address field and then typing geo.enabled in the filter box. Double-click the setting to change the ‘true' setting to ‘false'.

To clear a given site's remembered permission to use your location (or to see whether you've already allowed it), visit that site, click the site icon next to the URL, and choose More Information. Click the Permissions tab and change the ‘Share Location' options. To clear out all remembered site permissions (which will also reset other things, such as whether to load images for the site), go to Tools, Clear Recent History. Select a time period, and check the box for Site Preferences (be sure to uncheck the other items, unless you want them cleared as well).

Safari's location service prompts you when you visit, via iPhone, a site that can use your location based on GPS, local Wi-Fi networks, or cellular network data. Unlike Firefox, Safari on the iPhone gives you no option to have it remember your decision; the program automatically saves your choice for 24 hours, then resets. To clear a decision before then, go to the Settings app and tap General and then Reset. Tap Reset Location Warnings. To disable location services for Safari and all other apps, go to Settings, General and toggle the Location Services setting.

Both browsers do well to ask you before sharing your location with a site, but neither browser provides what I'd consider essential information: what the site wants to do with your data. Before you share anything, the permission pop-up should tell you whether the data is necessary to map you, find nearby restaurants, or perhaps display location-based ads--but neither browser offers such an explanation. And as the Center for Democracy and Technology notes, users deserve a way to see easily which sites they've okayed, and to revoke that permission if desired.

At this point, few Web sites employ the location features, but to see either browser's option in action, head over to m.flickr.com and choose the Photos taken nearby option

source pcworld

Posted by:  Blocked
Date:  Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Comments (7) (please add your comment »)

posted by Blocked (2009-08-23 02:03:03)
SouLesS avatarI though the new article section was going to be articles written by ET members for ET? Not copy/paste stuff from other web sites?? This seems like stuff that belongs in the forums..IMO anyways...not trying to offend anyone but that's just my thought..

posted by (2009-08-23 04:41:02)
terry74usa avatarif you talk about "big brother" your a conspiracy nut, but what the hell does google need to know where the hell i'm at? they got an ip 4 me. p.s. i don't care where the articles are from as long as they are good\informational.

posted by (2009-08-23 09:41:40)
joeamie avatarI use fire fix and have flag fox enabled its really good tells you which country the server is from that you are on and if you want privacey get hide my ip and enable it!

posted by (2009-08-23 09:42:04)
joeamie avatarOops sorry bad spelling meant fire fox!

posted by (2009-08-24 00:56:50)
ragga avataryer terry74usa u have got an ip, plus its just tracking companies and stuff like that that would use to find people that fileshare

posted by Blocked (2009-08-24 01:51:26)
No avatarGuys tunnel your connections with a VPN. Nobody will ever find you then. Promote encryption of the entire internet as a RIGHT TO YOUR PRIVACY. This will happen if you stand up for your rights :P

posted by (2009-08-24 17:14:37)
wickedjester avatarThanx for the post taker....

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