[thelist] Truth about cookies?

Warden, Matt mwarden at mattwarden.com
Tue Nov 13 22:10:15 CST 2001

On Nov 13, Chris Johnston had something to say about [thelist] Truth about...

>Now, I have used cookies on sites that I have built and I don't
>generally block cookies when I am browsing. As far as I understood, they
>are very little text bundles that are linked to the domain that placed
>them there and are read only. However, the press likes to claim that
>they scour your computer tracking your every move and reporting this
>info back to their master (and however else might be asking).

Maybe because they can be used like that?

>How is it that cookies have gotten so maligned in the press. There are
>far greater evils out there that never get mentioned, but no, the poor
>little cookie takes a beating in every report going on personal computer
>safety. So how do we stand up for the little cookie and educate the
>public about this harmless but helpful little text file?

Er... I'm not anti-cookie fanatic, but they aren't as harmless as you
portray them to be.

I've done some very scary stuff with cookies for a former employer.

I logged:
	1. What pages you visited, in what order
	2. Where your mouse travelled on certain pages
	3. a bunch of stuff that goes along those lines

Then, if you ever register for anything related to my former employer, I
now have your contact info and I relate all of your past sessions and all
the information that goes with that to your user id in the user table of
the database.

And, that ain't nuthin' compared to some of the affiliate-type systems out
there. I seem to remember that one such site bought a database from a
department store. Once you signed up for any site under their control,
they related your clickstream with your in-store shopping history. There
are nore examples.

The "bad wrap" cookies get don't have anything to do with the type of file
they are. it's because they're used to identify a computer (client,
really) in an environment with some assumed anonymity. And, what you *can*
do with that identification is a bit on the scary side.

Sure, the media exaggerates it. But, that's their job...


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