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News Update: Chrome, Firefox pull invasive browser extension


steven36

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'Stylish' add-on made sites look pretty, but did ugly data slurpage

 

Firefox and Chrome have removed a browser extension from their stores following revelations it was phoning home with users' web-surfing histories.

 

The "Stylish" plug-in gained popularity because it let users configure sites' appearance, rather than accepting the designers' decisions.

 

However – stop us if you've heard this one before – the code changed hands last year and the new owners expanded its data slurping activities.

 

Software engineer Robert Heaton decided to take a look at what was being sent to Stylish's owners, analytics company SimilarWeb, and was horrified.

 

As Heaton blogged, “HTTP requests that send a large blob of obfuscated data to a URL ending in /stats are almost never good news for users.”

 

While the SimilarWeb privacy policy for Stylish says it only collects anonymous data, Heaton found it was attaching an identifier to the data returned to the company.

 

“I looked closer at the decoded payload and noted a unique tracking identifier”, he wrote, adding “it only takes one tracking request containing one session cookie to permanently associate a user account with a Stylish tracking identifier. This means that Stylish and SimilarWeb still have all the data they need to connect a real-world identity to a browsing history, should they or a hacker choose to.”

 

Mozilla's add-on assessors decided Stylish, as it now stands, is out of line and made the extension unavailable to Firefox users (although it requires manual removal for current users).

 

A post from Andreas Wagner was blunt about the reason: “We decided to block because of violation of data practises outlined in the review policy.”

 

https://s7d5.turboimg.net/sp/d0bbb255b8ae9417f393a245528e9a30/stylish.jpg

Still popular after it's gone

 

As you can see above, Stylish was popular enough to be a front-page search result for “Chrome extensions”, but it's now gone from the Google extensions store

 

The Register asked SimilarWeb for comment.

 

PS: There is an open-source fork of Stylish sans analytics and tracking – Stylus.

 

Source

 

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Since Google does the data collection in a very forensic way, they too should be removed from the web.

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1 hour ago, vissha said:

Since Google does the data collection in a very forensic way, they too should be removed from the web.

I wish i had a time machine  and they would  be , you cant even come on this site and this forum to fully function without using there services , Back in the day some websites ran on installed Java even,  you just got a virus and reformatted and called it a day, Not much has changed really just different players doing the spying now but what has changed they have brainwashed  millions maybe billions into thinking there for the greater good when it's always been about money,

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14 hours ago, vissha said:

Since Google does the data collection in a very forensic way, they too should be removed from the web.

 

Even if they remove it from the web search, Google still stealing data :( 

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