Macrotone Blogs

Macrotone blogs upon Joomla, our products and other matters.

Canvas Fingerprint code tracking

fingerprintThe topic of the moment appears to be ‘Canvas Fingerprinting’ with a number of articles available on the web. It is the latest development in use for tracking the movement of users on the web. You do not need to click on a widget to be tracked, just visiting the site is sufficient.  It exploits the subtle differences in the rendering of the same text to extract a consistent fingerprint that can easily be obtained in a fraction of a second without the user being made aware.

A research paper concluded that code used for canvas fingerprinting had been in use earlier this year on 5,000 or so popular websites, unknown to most of them. Most but not all the sites observed made use of a content-sharing widget from the company AddThis.

The mechanism: Canvas Fingerprinting works in a similar way to cookies, by keeping a record of which sites are visited. When a browser loaded the AddThis widget, JavaScript that enabled canvas fingerprinting was sent. The script used a capability in modern Web browsers called the canvas API that allows access to the computer’s graphics chip, which is intended for use with games or other interactive content.

An invisible image is sent to the browser, which renders it and sends data back to the server. That data can then be used to create a “fingerprint” of the computer, which could be useful for identifying the computer and serving targeted advertisements.

But of several emerging tracking methods, canvas fingerprinting isn’t the greatest: it’s not terribly accurate, and can be blocked.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend their own ‘Privacy Badger’ or the Disconnect add-on.  

The list of sites that still track you is at this address.

So much for privacy.

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PECR– Cookies and Joomla Part 4

Several new product announcements to add to my growing list.  The JED now even has a separate section for Cookie Control

8. Cookie Choice is a non-commercial JED entry.  It does not block cookies but informs the user, which is what the current interpretation of the PECR regulations is understood to be required.

9. JE Cookies a commercial JED entry.  Details are a little light but it offers various colour options. 

One I have mentioned earlier 6. Cookie Alert does offer the country determination options, something we have in our own version.  We have tested our own version and it works reasonably well, although the impact on checking the country of origin on each screen refresh is something we are giving serious thought to, and would impact this product offering as well.

Our own home grown version is being tested and is working well.  One thing we have found is a small problem where if a visitor does not accept the cookies, and just leaves the banner displayed, continuing to browse the site, IF a separate modal window is opened, we have observed a situation where the model window is also presented with the cookie banner.  Not every modal window, just some, so we are investigating further. 

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Macrotone Web Site Cookies

Cookies Overview

Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer by websites that you visit.   They are widely used in order to make websites work, or work more efficiently, as well as to provide information to the owners of the site.

The table below explains the cookies we use and why.  View our Privacy Policy to learn more about cookies.

First Party Cookies

Cookie Name Purpose More info
Google Analytics __utma
These cookies are used to collect information about how visitors use our site. We use the information to compile reports and to help us improve the site. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form, including the number of visitors to the site, where visitors have come to the site from and the pages they visited. Disallowing the use of these cookies prevents us from accurately analysing visitor numbers and visitors trends.
Click here for more information on Google Analytics and the Cookies it uses.
Macrotone Consulting Web site bb2_screener_

This cookie is used by Bad Behavior  to ensure the security of the site and each visitor’s session.

This cookie is believed to be exempt from the regulation because it is a site security cookie meant to help comply with the seventh data protection principle.


‘encrypted name’

Encrypted session cookie used by the web site to track the visitor.  Both the name and the value are encrypted.

Expires at the end of the session.

The session cookie name is an MD5 hash of logged in username (if logged in),  ip address, and some other info. 
The names and values are to all extents meaningless. 
In addition to the session cookie, if you have set the "remember me" flag there is also a remember me cookie saved with an encrypted version of your username and password.

  cookieAcceptanceCookie Indicates acceptance of Cookies policy.  Created when visitor has accepted cookie policy.


Third Party Cookies

Cookie Name Purpose More info
Twitter 'Tweet' button unique id pid This cookie is set by to save a unique anonymous id for each website visitor.
Only present if Twitter is used on the site.

Please visit to find out more. To delete this cookie you must manually delete this via your web browser settings.

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PECR – Cookies and Joomla

I have discovered a few pieces of software that provide a start in satisfying the PECR Cookie regulations which come into effect on 26th May 2012.

I make no claims for any of these pieces of software, but my searches may be of use to others.   In total I have found the following:

Continue reading
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