New Firefox "feature" eases spying on users

http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/darin/archives/009594.html

A new proposed feautre in Firefox/Mozilla automates a common web-linking
technique in a way that raises grave concerns about user-privacy. A common
practice for some web-sites is to send people who click on links to a server
that first counts their click and then redirects them to the link's
destination. Firefox's new "ping" attribute proposal for links lets
web-authors do this in a less-transparent, but more efficient way, so that
when you click on a link, a "ping" is sent to a server (or group of servers)
to notify it of your click while your browser loads the destination page.

>     I'm sure this may raise some eye-brows among privacy conscious folks, but
> please know that this change is being considered with the utmost regard for
> user privacy. The point of this feature is to enable link tracking mechanisms
> commonly employed on the web to get out of the critical path and thereby
> reduce the time required for users to see the page they clicked on. Many
> websites will employ redirects to have all link clicks on their site first go
> back to them so they can know what you are doing and then redirect your
> browser to the site you thought you were going to. The net result is that you
> end up waiting for the redirect to occur before your browser even begins to
> load the site that you want to go to. This can have a significant impact on
> page load performance.

I understand the motivation for this, but the implementation sounds fishy.
I'd prefer a system that obtained user-consent for any pinging that took
place, and that allowed ping-blocking by site, ping-server or across all
sites. That would let users control their experience and their privacy.
Otherwise, this feature just eases the technological burdens associated with
spying on users.



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