TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Mossberg: Tracking Cookies are Spyware

Re: Mossberg: Tracking Cookies are Spyware

Julian Thomas (
Sun, 17 Jul 2005 16:20:14 -0400

In <>, on 07/17/05 at
03:52 PM, typed:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And have you noticed how many sites
> refuse to admit you at all if you refuse to accept their cookies? On
> our web site until last year when the site
> was greatly overhauled, I used cookies only for the purpose of
> referring to the user by name and telling him how often he had been
> there. _No other reason_. I finally quit it, when various users were
> offended by it; not apparently because I called them by name, or
> referenced how often they had been around, but because of all the
> potential for misuse otherwise. And I did get 'legitimate' business
> inquiries about the cookies. Companies wanted to by them, etc and
> get more details, etc. But that just made me feel very uneasy and
> unethical. That's the main reason I distribute NY Times and other
> newspapers on this site (see td-extra) with no login nor
> registration requirements. I just don't think it is anyone's
> business who reads what around here. PAT]

Actually, there are several good strategies for dealing with these
sites, at least in the Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox browser family.

The easiest is to make the cookie file (usually cookies.txt)
read-only. This presents the illusion that the cookie was accepted,
but it actually evaporates on your machine.

If there is a site whose cookie you want to accept, turn off the
readonly attribute on the file, accept the cookie, close the browser,
and make the file readonly again.

Another approach is to have a backup of the file, and restore from the
backup on every bootup (this can be automated).

Julian Thomas:
In the beautiful Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State!
Warpstock 2005: Hershey, Pa. October 6-9, 2005 -

Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The way some web sites are getting
around that now is by issuing the cookie, as always, then going back
one or two seconds later (while loading the page) _looking_ for the
cookie ("Didn't I just give you a cookie? What does it say? What do
you mean you don't have it any longer? That's it for you, goodbye.")
I have tried that technique, I still get rejected by some sites. PAT]

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