Chrome Covers Your Tracks with new ‘Flash Cookie’ Killer
Google has updated the dev channel of its Chrome web browser, adding a new option to delete so-called Flash Cookies. Technically known as “local shared objects” (LSO), Flash Cookies don’t go away when you clear your browser-based cookies. Unless, that is, you happen to be using the dev channel of Google Chrome.
Chrome’s new feature adds Flash LSOs to the list of items you can delete when you clear your browser data. To try out the new tool, grab the latest copy of the Chrome dev channel and head to the wrench menu. Look for the “tools” menu item and then select Clear Browsing Data.
Chrome’s new Flash Cookie cleaning tool works because of the new ClearSiteData API, which was developed by Adobe, Google and Mozilla. The goal is to make deleting plugin-based cookies as simple as normal, browser-based cookies. In Flash’s case the new API will make its official debut when Flash Player 10.3 arrives (it’s currently in the release candidate stage). Prior to the API deleting Flash cookies required navigating through the Flash Player settings dialog and visiting Adobe’s website.
Unfortunately most users are not aware of LSOs, let alone the labyrinthian process required to delete them. The new API turns over the task of managing plugin-based cookies to the web browser, meaning you can control everything from one place. At the moment only the Flash plugin supports the new API, but hopefully other plugins will follow suit.
Since Mozilla has been a part of the API development process, look for Firefox nightlies and Aurora to offer similar options in the coming months.
One thing to keep in mind, unless you have Flash 10.3 installed, the new API won’t work, which is part of the reason you’ll find the new features in Chrome — which ships with Flash built in — and not in Chromium, which does not bundle Flash. Once Flash 10.3 is a final release, look for other browsers to begin offering LSO delete tools as well.