Sunday, April 27, 2008

What's ya doin'?

That's interesting - I was reading an article with a notable headline Do you know what's leaking out of your browser? and got distracted by a pretty cool Microsoft Forefront Server flash commercial.

Purely accidentally I right-clicked the Flash and (for the first time in my life) chose "Settings...". What I have found is pretty scary. What in the world is this setting for?! What kind of pervert would not just enable the access but would like to keep it? Obviously the developer's goal was to make the "Allow" a first-choice action. So far the "Deny" is pre-selected but what if the future release will decide to "improve the customer experience" by knowing the customer more intimately? Or not even just do that but hide this setting so the user wouldn't worry. Do you know exactly how this feature works anyway? I don't.

Adobe must be aware of some controversy but doesn't seem to be too worried that people could find it disturbing. The support site casually lists the Setting Manager abilities:

To specify whether websites must ask your permission before using your camera or microphone, you use the Global Privacy Settings panel.

In other words "You can change colours, set updates frequency and, oh, by the way (yawn) - you can disagree with somebody spying on you. Mmmkey?"

Are you still worrying? Caaamon! They have the article that will comfort you: Can others use my webcam to spy on me?:

Ads and other applications that use the Flash Player cannot access your webcam without your explicit permission to do so.

That's a relief - people who delivering their advertising (unsolicited) to my house should be allowed to peep explicitly. It is just a spam, after all. But what if next time it will be an anti-terrorist campaign form the NSA? Hmm...

MSN Messenger can control your input devices too, but you have to turn it on in the first place - sic perform a conscious and explicit action. Development using "advance" (here: questionable) Messenger features is subject of registration and approval (most likely the government will obtain it pretty easy but at least it's a paper trail). Does the Adobe have this kind of regulation? Peer Guardian, people!

P.S. It's not like I suspect that you are doing something in front of your computer that you should be ashamed of, but still.... :)

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