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Adobe Gives Users Privacy Control with Flash Player 10.3

The latest Flash Player addresses critical vulnerabilities and introduces features for better control over Flash cookies.

Adobe has released Adobe Flash Player 10.3 for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Android. Flash Player 10.3 represents a pretty significant upgrade for the Adobe software--adding a variety of improvements and features, and giving users more control over their Web-surfing privacy.

The update addresses the obligatory critical vulnerabilities that could be exploited to compromise your PC. But, the most compelling new feature of Adobe Flash Player 10.3 is the increased control users have over their own privacy. With all of the various efforts to manage online tracking and implement some sort of do-not-track framework, Flash cookies are often forgotten about.

But, cookies are not stored or managed only in the Web browser itself. The security concerns over Flash cookies--and cookies stored by other third-party apps and plug-ins--have been an issue as well.

Adobe worked with several open source entities--including Google and Mozilla--to develop a new browser API called NPAPI ClearSiteData. The new API allows any browser that implements it to be able to clear local storage for any plugins that also utilize the API. Adobe also worked directly with Microsoft to develop equivalent functionality for Internet Explorer 8 and 9.

Flash Player 10.3 is the first plugin to support the new API--providing users with the tools to clear Flash cookies from local storage in the same way they clear browser cookies. Adobe expects upcoming open-source browser versions to provide support for the API, and hopes that other third-party plugins will take advantage of the API as well to provide better privacy control for users.

With Flash Player 10.3, Adobe also added an auto-update notification component for the Mac OS X version. It isn't a direct security enhancement per se, but at least Mac users will now be alerted when a new version of Flash is available, and more often than not those updates are related to security issues.

Adobe Flash Player 10.3 isn't all about security and privacy, though. It also includes new media measurement and acoustic echo cancellation features. Adobe claims media measurement gives developers the tools to implement video analytics and collect data on how video content is distributed, how large the audience is, and how often the video is played. Acoustic echo cancellation enables developers to create real-time collaboration tools with Flash by providing echo cancellation, noise suppression, voice activity detection, and automatic volume leveling for better audio performance and clarity even without a headset.

Download and install the latest version of Flash Player to take advantage of these new features.

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