Mossberg: Cookies are Spyware!

Source Title:
Walter Mossberg and the WSJ weigh in on cookies
Story Text:

Oh boy, pointed out by Eric comes a WSJ story by tech writer Walter Mossberg entitled "Despite Others' Claims, Tracking Cookies Fit My Spyware Definition"

Some choice quotes:

To me, tracking cookies clearly meet the obvious definition of spyware ... If you don't like the idea of tracking cookies, run an antispyware program that detects and removes them, along with all the other indefensible computer code some companies think they have the right to install. After all, it is your computer.


Rather than trying to legitimize tracking cookies with pressure and marketing campaigns, I suggest that, if they really believe tracking cookies are legitimate, the companies that use them simply go straight. They should ask a user's permission to install the cookies, pointing out whatever user benefits they believe the cookies provide. They might even offer users compensation for allowing tracking cookies on their machines.

Eric really has a great post here, he talks about what kind of effects outside pressure, high profile pressure, like this may have on users..

imagine you're the average WSJ reader who has been on the fence about cookies based on the recent spate of coverage and Walter Mossberg tells you that he believes tracking cookies to be spyware and that if you don't want to be spied upon when browsing you should reject these cookies. What would you do?

Ever since those Jupiter released those fateful cookie deletion reports the news has been slowly rippling outward, making them even more real, and even more terrifying to web marketers...


others probably know that

others probably know that market far better than I, but Craig Danuloff says it all started with:

In a marketing effort that would make Frank Luntz proud, Webtrends has been orchestrating a PR campaign suggesting that cookies aren't reliable enough to use for high-end analytics.

>> aren't reliable enough to use for high-end analytics

Funny, thats most peoples attitude to Webtrends, isn't it?

Bloody hell

"Installing on your computer"? Balls. "Point out the benefits"? You mean raise a completely innocent and benign aspect of the site into a reason to worry. "Don't Panic! Don't Panic!" "I wasn't going to but now you mention it .."

It's like stopping someone before entering the supermarket and saying "You know, we use CCTV. That means we can watch every movement you make in the store, its recorded and kept for months too. You know that one time you scratched your ass in aisle 3? We have that on tape #322". Well, maybe not :O).

Here's an idea, let's take away one advantage online has over traditional media shall we? What a load of bollocks this is. In the vast majority of cases cookies enhance your experience and do NOT pose a privacy risk. The web site owner knows SOMEONE has done something, until you give over your personal information they do not know WHO and in most cases you will be informed and incentivised to do that. What, other than accuracy, is the difference between cookies and tracking by IP address+Useragent?

They should ask a user's

They should ask a user's permission to install the cookies

You mean like all the browsers give you the option of doing? Ho hum.

I've usually a good deal of

I've usually a good deal of respect for mossberg, but in this case he's being a prize fuckwit, what the hell is he talking about?

We REALLY don't need shit like this right now!

I'm shaking and seeing red! I lay awake nights worrying about the future of Internet marketing if cookies keep being targeted as the bad guy. Little comments about cookies in some sypware articles is bad enough. But an entire article devoted to how bad cookies are and telling consumers to delete them, in the WSJ of all places???
Somebody put a muzzle on this guy and retract that article!


don't know Mossberg, but

..I know an ignorant person when I hear one. This man clearly knows very little about cookies. Some of the things he says in that article are directly misleading, like that the same cookie is valid across domains or that it's something that's installed on the computer.

He might as well say that cars are dangerous because people are killed in traffic every day. A cookie per se is absolutely harmless, just like a car is.

Cookies may not be

Cookies may not be 'cross-domain' but effectively they are, if you do it right claus, you know that right? It's how a lot of this stuff is done..

Just a small point, otherwise i agree, he's being a knob, and that's not good for one in his position of influence..

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