The upcoming release of Adobe Flash Player 10.3 will give users of most of the major browsers the ability to delete Flash cookies in much the same way that they’re able to erase normal Web cookies, thanks to a better integration with privacy settings in Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.
The addition of the ability for users to delete the cookies set by plug-ins and browser add-ons gives them better control of the security and privacy of the content on their machines and is designed to address a serious issue that’s been plaguing Flash for some time. Security and privacy experts have warned about the implications of so-called Flash cookies, which are set by Flash and difficult for users to find and delete.
Flash Player 10.3, which is in release candidate form right now, will give users the ability to simply delete these cookies at the same time that they are deleting normal HTML cookies. In Internet Explorer 8 or 9, users who have the newest version of Flash installed will be able to delete Flash cookies by using the “Delete Browsing History” feature in IE. Microsoft published an API that enabled this for third-party plug-ins when it released IE 8.
“Adobe recently announced
that Flash Player 10.3 integrates with Delete Browsing History. This
means that when you delete your cookies with Delete Browsing History,
Flash Player will automatically clear your Flash cookies as well. We
applaud the change. It resolves a longstanding privacy issue,” Microsoft’s Andy Zeigler said in a blog post on the change.
Microsoft has published an IE test page that enables users to see how the feature works on IE 8 or 9 with the Flash Player 10.3 release candidate installed.
Firefox 4, which Mozilla released in late March, also has the ability to delete Flash cookies.
Google also has announced that Chrome also will include the ability for users to delete Flash cookies–which also are known as local shared objects (LSOs)–in Chrome. The company added the feature in a dev channel update of Chrome last week and it will be in a stable release of the browser soon.
“In the past, in order to view Flash LSOs and delete them from your computer, you had to visit an online settings application
on Adobe’s website. To make local storage data deletion easier, we
worked with Adobe and others in the web community to design the NPAPI ClearSiteData API.
This API, which Adobe has implemented in Flash Player 10.3, has made it
possible to delete Flash LSOs directly from the browser itself,” Google’s Bernhard Bauer said.
“As of this week’s Chrome Dev channel release, you can delete local plug-in storage data (such as Flash LSOs) from within Chrome by clicking Wrench > Tools > Clear browsing data and selecting ‘Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data.'”
The API that enables Flash to implement this feature is open to other plug-ins, as well.