What are Cookies and Flash LSO's?
Cookies are files saved to your web browser when you visit a website. They create a unique identifying tag for you, and are used to remember user settings or preferences.
Flash LSO's (short for Local Stored Objects or Persistent Identification Elements) are like cookies, except they're saved to the Flash media player, not your browser.
Are Flash cookies really a privacy concern?
They can be. Most Flash LSO's – like browser cookies – are harmless and actually improve your browsing experience. For instance, Flash LSO's enable Pandora radio to remember your favorite stations.
But Flash LSO's can also be used to track what you do online. Usually, this information is saved anonymously, and is only collected to create targeted advertisements for you. Still, Internet privacy experts worry that this information could be used inappropriately.
How Flash LSO's can compromise your privacy:
- Flash LSO's create a unique ID for you.
- This ID is sent back to the company that created the cookie.
- Companies can use this ID to see what other sites you visit if they have cookies on those sites, too.
- Flash LSO's also leave a record of your browsing history on your computer.
How do I block or erase Flash LSO's?
Deleting cookies from your browser does not get rid of Flash LSO's, as they aren't saved to the browser.
To get rid of Flash LSO's, you have to change settings on the Flash player or download a program that can eliminate the objects:
- Adobe, the makers of the Flash player, have set up a web page that explains how to set your security so as to disable Flash LSO's – keep in mind, though, that ultra-secure settings that block Flash LSO's might also prevent many sites from working.
- If you use Firefox, an add-on called Objection can block or delete Flash LSO's.
- Flash Cookie Cleaner is a freeware application from ConsumerSoft that lets you view and delete Flash LSO's while using any browser.