Our trust just got further webbed out to sea! Turns out that the popular website review and reputation browser add-on service, Web of Trust just got caught with its hands deep in the cookie jar. The messy matter was blown wide open by the investigative efforts of the German Television Broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR). Its investigations found out that rather than safeguarding users’ interests as it was supposed to, that WoT was busy selling improperly protected user information to third parties for a pecuniary consideration. The Web of Trust is a browser add-on widely available for Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari which enables users to tell at a glance the safety or otherwise of particular websites. It has been downloaded at least 140 million times, which serves to show the level of potential damage users might have unwittingly exposed themselves to. Information revealed by WoT included whether users were under a police investigation or not, together with their sexual orientations, health status, surfing histories and even email addresses and phone numbers.
Among the majors, Mozilla first yanked off the WoT add-on after user complaints. In an abject statement, WoT says it has additionally pulled its add-on from all other browser platforms, and that it would release an updated version of its service that would be in total compliance with regulations, as well as take unspecified appropriate measures to ensure no re-occurrence. WoT further insists that while it carefully and conscientiously removes any identifying information from the browsing history that it sells for profit, that in some cases, identification of a few users and their private info still remained possible. And additionally, it promises to in future provide users the option to remain totally private while still using the WoT service and that it hopes in due time to regain users trust. Keep on hoping brah.
If you do have the Web of Trust enabled in your browser, now is the time to speedily disable and manually uninstall it. And remind yourselves there is nothing more like trust these days, webby or not.