Does Macromedia Flash infringe privacy of its users?

One of my readers, Jonathan Hirshon, sent me this email after he accidentally right-clicked on a Flash ad that happened to sneak past his ad filter and grabbed its source URL…

> After checking Macromedia’s online privacy manager on my iMac, I was horrified to learn that Flash 7 (and presumably 8) gives advertisers the option to not only capture data from your mic or video camera – but to also store data separate from your cookie files that can be read by macromedia.com (and presumably its advertisers, though I am unsure of this last point). Click the 4th tab on the privacy manager and check the ‘Website privacy settings’ and see what sites you have visited that have already stored info on you and whether they have the ability to remotely access your A/V equipment.

Now the big this Macromedia will say, well its in our privacy manager and we are not hiding anything from you. The tiniest of tiny fine print like that is most often never read by consumers. I think we need someone like Eliot Spitzer to step up and make the big tech companies spell this out in clear, and plain english in big bold letters.

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