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1999apr24. Privacy: Awhile back, I was noticing a growing number of requests for a file called “favicon.ico” in the referral logs. A quick search led me to this document from Microsoft which explains that the favicon.ico is small icon that would be displayed via Internet Explorer if someone had bookmarked your site. Okay, completely vile – this isn’t in any of the web standards, I don’t need to make little cute icons for users, etc. I hadn’t really considered the privacy implications of this, but there’s an article in Wired about it. Okay, so any site can figure out when you’re bookmarking them - that’s not MUCH of a privacy violation, but it still hugs.

So how’s THIS for a privacy violation? Let’s say you’re looking at some stupid top-secret file via your web browser on your top-secret hard drive connected to the internet, and then you go to say, JUST AS A RANDOM EXAMPLE, Cardhouse. Now WHAT do you suppose shows up in the referral logs? That’s right, my sweetkins, I can see you! I can see where you were just before you loaded my page. It comes to me via the referral logs. Here, let’s take a look at OTHER PEOPLE’S HARD DRIVES:

file:///SuperMac%AA%20HD/Internet/startup.html -> /

file:///C|/IOTA finish (main)/iota sites/ingress.html -> /links/weblog.htm

file:///Emotional%20Intelligence/HTML/HomePage -> /macros/

file:///Sam’s%20iMac/samhome.html -> /

Any of this look familiar? You want to talk about privacy violations ... Any one with a website who reads their referral logs is getting the same information that I just presented to you. I don’t know if this is a browser-specific problem, it seems like I would get more of these types of files a day. Perhaps this was already fixed in later browsers and these are using Netscape 1.1 or something. I’m too lazy to check.