Note: interesting sidebar list of companies using the 'bypass' code.
Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using [Safari] on their iPhones and computers...
The companies used special computer code that tricks Apple's Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users. Safari, the most widely used browser on mobile devices, is designed to block such tracking by default.
...found that ads on 22 of the top 100 websites installed the Google tracking code on a test computer, and ads on 23 sites installed it on an iPhone browser.
The technique reaches far beyond those websites, however, because once the coding was activated, it could enable Google tracking across the vast majority of websites. Three other online-ad companies were found using similar techniques: Vibrant Media Inc., WPP PLC's Media Innovation Group LLC and Gannett Co.'s PointRoll Inc.
A few points worth making:
* this Safari 'hack' is not new.
* there are multiple browser hacks in use by various ad networks, sites, marketing agencies mostly designed to aid tracking, especially of those who would rather not be.
* Google is having a privacy identity crisis that could have serious consequences.
* Google is between the rock of a plateauing in ad revenue and the hard place of quarterly investor expectations. I expect that they will continue pushing boundaries all over the place.
* the actual ROI of many/most ad remarketing efforts is pitiful. Advertisers are more buying into the idea of it than because it works. Note: there are exceptions.