News Column

Patent Issued for Unified Tracking Data Management

August 12, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Falkenburg, Steven Jon (Los Altos, CA); Adler, Darin Benjamin (Los Gatos, CA); Berlin, Jessie Leah (Santa Clara, CA); Jin, Jing (Sunnyvale, CA); Decker, Kevin W. (San Jose, CA); Stachowiak, Maciej (San Francisco, CA), filed on April 25, 2011, was published online on July 29, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8793809 is Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "With the increase in the popularity of the web (or World Wide Web), more and more websites are tracking users' browsing activities for legitimate or illegitimate reasons, such as targeted advertisements or privacy theft. Hidden websites may perform usage tracking in the background unknown to a user while the user visits a seemingly unrelated website. As a result, user privacy can be seriously compromised.

"Typically, websites rely on local data storage in a device for usage tracking. For example, browser cookie is commonly used as a local storage mechanism for websites to store tracking data. Traditional privacy management tools are largely based on managing commonly used website storage mechanisms such as browser cookies. However, as technologies evolve, the browser continues to support new mechanisms for local storages. Thus, new opportunities for usage tracking are made available for websites to take advantage of. As a result, these traditional privacy management tools may give only a false sense of security without keeping up with the newly introduced mechanisms for usage tracking.

"Furthermore, the ever increasing number of third party plugin modules or extensions installed for a browser also contributes to the complexity of managing usage tracking. Usually, these plugins are provided with their own private local storages requiring separate interfaces for external access. Thus, a user may be required to keep track of a constantly changing number of local data stores and/or interfaces for managing usage tracking or removing usage tracking data.

"Therefore, existing approaches for managing usage tracking do not provide a user with an option to control usage tracking in a unified, comprehensive and robust manner."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "A unified interface can be provided to identify and manage various parties or websites storing local data with degrees of usage tracking, for example, on a browser application. The interface may include a streamlined presentation to expose all websites or companies that may be tracking a user of a device. For example, a degree of tracking associated with a particular website (or domain) may be indicated by revealing that the particular website has locally stored a variety of types of data which can be used for usage tracking as the browser application visits certain websites. Information on all types of tracking activities targeting a user (or a device) from one single website may be consolidated to reveal possible hidden tracking activities. Counter measures may be provided to allow a user to remove multiple types of tracking data in a single request to minimize the user's management effort.

"An embodiment of the present invention includes methods and apparatuses that collect tracking data items into a plurality of data stores for one or more domains in response to resources received from the domains. Each tracking data item may be accessible for one of the domains. Relationships of the domains may be identified among the tracking data items across multiple data stores according to the resources received. One or more of the domains may be selected according to the identified relationships to control accessibility of the tracking data items. The data stores may be updated to prohibit accessing a portion of the tracking data items for the selected domains.

"In another embodiment, data items may be stored in one or more data stores according to resources received from a plurality of domains. Each data item may be accessible for one of the domains to allow usage tracking for the domain. Relationships among the domains may be analyzed for one or more statistics of the data items in response to a user request. The statistics may indicate degrees of usage tracking for corresponding domains. The domains may be presented via the user interface in an order sorted according to the degrees of usage tracking.

"In yet another embodiment, tracking data items may be stored in one or more data stores locally in a device via resources received from a domain by a browser application. A portion of the tracking data items capable of carrying usage tracking information on the browser application may be identified for the domain. The identified portion of tracking data items may be removed from the data stores to prevent restoration of the usage tracking information in the data stores via future resources received from the domain.

"Other features of the present invention will be apparent from the accompanying drawings and from the detailed description that follows."

For additional information on this patent, see: Falkenburg, Steven Jon; Adler, Darin Benjamin; Berlin, Jessie Leah; Jin, Jing; Decker, Kevin W.; Stachowiak, Maciej. Unified Tracking Data Management. U.S. Patent Number 8793809, filed April 25, 2011, and published online on July 29, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Apple Inc., Information Technology, Information and Data Management.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly

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