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Adobe Helps Users Wipe Out Flash 'Cookies'

Worries over privacy abuse of Adobe Flash's local storage objects led to collaboration with browser vendors for new features
Adobe has added new features that make it simpler for users to clear local storage in Flash, also known as Flash "cookies."

The local shared objects (LSOs) in Flash are typically used for storing user preferences, but some websites abuse this information to track users' moves and behaviors while online, even restoring them after a user manually deletes his or her LSOs.

Adobe teamed up with Mozilla and Google to integrate LSO management with the browser's user interface. New features will make it easier for users to clear local storage in Flash via a new browser API developed by Adobe, Mozilla, and Google. This provides users with more privacy protection.

Emmy Huang, group product manager for Adobe Flash Player, said in a blog post yesterday that Flash users can now delete LSOs from their browser settings interface, in much the same way they clear browser cookies. Adobe, Mozilla, and Google have come up with a new browser API that allows this function, and it's expected to be deployed in Firefox, Chrome, and other browsers.

"We expect other vendors to be rolling out support for this capability in the near future, and we will continue to work on additional capabilities to improve user privacy in partnership with browser vendors," Huang said. "The ability to clear local storage from the browser extends the work we did in Flash Player 10.1, which launched with a new private browsing feature integrated with the private browsing mode in major browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and Apple's Safari. When you are in a private browsing mode session in your browser, Flash Player will automatically delete any local storage that was written by websites during that browser session once the browser is closed."

That way, Flash Player can't be used to store any history or other information from your private session.

Adobe also plans to make available some upgrades to Flash Player Settings Manager in the first half of the year. This redesign will make it simpler for users to understand and manage their Flash Player settings and privacy preferences, and it will be accessible via the computer's Control Panel or System Preferences in Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

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