April 07, 2005

Don't like cookies on your computer?

Too effing bad. At least, that appears to be the gist of this article. Excerpt:

United Virtualities is offering online marketers and publishers technology that attempts to undermine the growing trend among consumers to delete cookies planted in their computers.

The New York company on Thursday unveiled what it calls PIE, or persistent identification element, a technology that's uploaded to a browser and restores deleted cookies. In addition, PIE, which can't be easily removed, can also act as a cookie backup, since it contains the same information.
When a consumer goes to a PIE-enabled website, the visitor's browser is tagged with a Flash object that contains a unique identification similar to the text found in a traditional cookie. In this way, PIE acts as a cookie backup, and can also restore the original cookie when the consumer revisits the site.

While consumers have learned to delete cookies, most are unaware of shared objects, and don't know how to disable them.

Mookie Tanembaum, founder and chief executive of United Virtualities, says the company is trying to help consumers by preventing them from deleting cookies that help website operators deliver better services.

"The user is not proficient enough in technology to know if the cookie is good or bad, or how it works," Tanembaum said.
[editor's note: Fuck you, dickwad]
Using technology like United Virtualities's to circumvent consumers could cause a backlash, JupiterResearch analyst David Schatsky said. The research firm found that many consumers understand cookies, and may be willing to allow some in their computers, if they are given the choice upfront.

"(PIE) sounds like it flies in the face of what consumers are telling us," Schatsky said. "They're seeking privacy and control, and if this is denied, then they won't be happy."

Tanembaum also warned against using PIE to thwart consumers.

"Any abuse of this technology is not welcomed by us," Tanembaum said. "We believe people should use this technology responsibly. If people don't want cookies in place, then (their browsers) shouldn't be tagged."

Consumers can make PIE inoperable by raising the security settings in their browsers to its highest level, Tanembaum said. But he acknowledges that such a high setting would also hamper consumers' ability to visit non-PIE websites.

But there is hope: "For its part, Macromedia has posted on its website instructions for disabling shared objects uploaded to browsers. "

Posted by Physics Geek at April 7, 2005 04:57 PM StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Me, I don't mind cookies. I used to be really uptight about them, but then I just figured that if Yahoo wants to find out what kind of pr0n I'm surfing for, who am I to judge their voyeurism? :-)

Posted by: Harvey at April 7, 2005 06:16 PM

I like cookies, too, especially the oatmeal-raisin or peanut butter kind. But that's just me.

Posted by: physics geek at April 7, 2005 09:16 PM

Harvey, that was the funniest reply I've read all week.... ;-)

If you don't want a site to remember your computer, whether by browser cookies or Flash's "shared objects", then you can definitely prevent it from doing so.

Just right-click on any Macromedia Flash file to pull up the Settings Panel. One of the little tabs there is for file storage. This is where you can see how much data the site stored on your computer, and control it. You can set it to zero kilobytes if you wish.

To set limits for all sites at once, click that little "?" Help icon in the Settings Panel. This will bring up a web page interface for deeper control over what websites can and cannot do.

More info is in the technote you cited in your clipping. Thanks!

John Dowdell
Macromedia Support

Posted by: John Dowdell at April 8, 2005 04:48 AM

Thanks for the info. Physics Geek and John!

Posted by: vw bug at April 10, 2005 11:10 PM

Glad to be of service. Very nice response from John, btw.

Posted by: physics geek at April 11, 2005 04:14 PM