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The Internet Privacy

Delete Cookies, Inflate Net Traffic Estimates 217

Posted by kdawson
from the throwing-them-off dept.
eldavojohn writes "In my browser, I regularly go to the tools menu and clear my private data. This includes my cookies. As a result, people like me who destroy cookies by the thousands may be inflating estimates of Web traffic by up to 150 percent. People have good reasons for clearing out cookies — we've heard about bad cookies before (and I think the FCC is still investigating the issue). But every time you delete cookies, many of the sites you've visited count you as a new visitor next time."
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Delete Cookies, Inflate Net Traffic Estimates

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  • ...you could be like me--I block all cookies from all sites until I've added them to my whitelist.
    • by dattaway (3088) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:39PM (#18769865) Homepage Journal
      and be sure to set your browser to "googlebot"

      That way no one has visited but another web spider!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by FFFish (7567)
        I spoof my MAC address and re-boot my DSL connection once a week, getting a new IP Address each time!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:53PM (#18770155)
      I just forward all my cookies on to Santa - I get good presents
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Derek Pomery (2028)
      Heh. I do the same thing.
      Of course, a site could also try tagging me by serving me a uniquely timestamped file modification date on some piece of server content. Assuming I cache, that'd also serve for tracking.

      Isn't like everything is just cookies and IP tracking.

      Or heck, SSL session ID makes for short-lived tagging to determine a visitor, as does analysing site access patterns.
      • Hm. Super-convoluted. Use a javascript image portscan to attempt a fingerprint to try and determine if the IP has moved, if the visitor is identified as coming from a dynamic range.
        • ... how about 301? Let's say a site redirects from / to /DEADBEEF1234/ or from /webbug.gif to /DEADBEEF1234/webbug.gif with a 301 - that seems that could track people too.
          And let's not forget flash - it has a local store for saving flash app information, often on by default.
          I wonder if a really determined ad company might not have a half-dozen methods of tracking me.
    • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:57PM (#18771349) Homepage
      Hmmm. I wonder if this inflates the apparent popularity of Firefox (not that I consider that a bad thing, mind you).

      After all,

      1) it's geeks who tend to both use FF *and* block cookies
      2) the FF extension architecture makes it easy to use selective cookie blocking tools
      3) FF settings allow automatic cookie deletion each time it exits, unlike IE (=IE6, at least)

      All in all, I suspect that (*IF* the subject article is accurate) FF users probably account for a disproportionately large chunk of those "re-visits".

      I bet M$FT hates that.
      • by xENoLocO (773565) * on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:00PM (#18773215) Homepage
        On one hand, your post is intriguing and thought provoking.

        On the other hand, this is slashdot and that kind of behavior is not allowed here. We demand you say something funny.
      • by SeaFox (739806)

        Hmmm. I wonder if this inflates the apparent popularity of Firefox (not that I consider that a bad thing, mind you).

        Actually, it means something much more frightening. It means MySpace is even more popular in comparison to other websites, as no one on MySpace would be smart enough to delete cookies on a regular basis, so there aren't any "double dips" of the new visitor counter like other sites would have.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rapidweather (567364)
        In my livecd linux [geocities.com], based on Knoppix 3.4 (see screenshots, below) I use control scripts for Firefox, Flock and Opera that does several things.
        First, if any ~/.flock ~/.mozilla or ~/.opera happens to be in /ramdisk, it deletes the entire ~/.flock, ~/.mozilla, or ~/.opera then installs a new, default one, that I have set up. The browser then displays a local copy (in the cd) of this page:

        http://www.geocities.com/rapidweather/web.html [geocities.com]

        A default set of RSS feeds is on the Firefox favorites toolbar, the "My News

  • ...And? (Score:2, Funny)

    by xlsior (524145)
    News at 11 -- Water still wet.
    • Oh darn. An audience that varies from day to day that is very large to begin with is difficult to count. Find a metric that everyone is happy with it, realize it isn't reality any more than any other metric, and move on with actually being a BA. The worst problem with most BAs is that they are constantly inventing reasons that something has to be analyzed again. Accurately counting television viewers, sports event attendees (as opposed to ticket holders) raindrops and grains of sand might keep you entertain
      • Besides, does it really matter if your website had 1 million visitors as opposed to 1.5 million? What would you do differently with the extra 500,000 visitors?
        I'm sure it matters a lot to people buying advertising on those sites. Having your ad shown to .66% of the people they're telling you it's being shown to would be a bit upsetting.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          As someone who's buying ads, ask them how them came up with their numbers, and be your own judge of how accurate they are. If you aren't asking how their numbers are being generated, then they could just be making it all up. Granted, they could be making up the numbers anyway, but at least you've done some due-diligence. Besides, what you should really be doing is checking your own site statistics that the ads are linking to, to determine how many people the ad is drawing. If you believe everything the
          • Besides, what you should really be doing is checking your own site statistics that the ads are linking to, to determine how many people the ad is drawing.

            Which is subject to the same issue and is better how? If this article is accurate, and I am inclined to believe it is, this information really does throw off marketing data, not just from hosted ads, but also from internal campaigns, any A-B testing a site might be doing, etc.

            BTW, I am one of those FF users that believes no cookie should be around longe

        • Which leads one to wonder how useful these numbers actually are to either the advertiser or the website owner. We've already established that they're just made-up numbers that happen to correspond to some log entries (not people). I'd pay an advertiser for their time and for any material they created (posters, brochures, website graphics, etc.) and for their reputation. If I wanted to check up on them, I'd do a customer service survey to find out how many of my customers became customers because they saw an
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by amper (33785) *
      And in other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is *still* dead.
    • No shit. Hello!?!?! Topic moderation please!!
  • No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:35PM (#18769785) Homepage Journal
    I hadn't thought about counting it this way until this article appeared but, now that it's said, I'm not surprised. It doesn't matter what the consumer does. The business analysts will always find a way to spin it for their profit. Initially the business analysts thought that this would be a perfect way to track all of the visitors. When some of the visitors decided they didn't want to be tracked then the business analysts decided that, well, maybe tracking them (in that particularly way) wasn't the important metric for the shareholders to see. The more important number, obviously, is how many discrete visitors they have.

    Brilliant.
  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:36PM (#18769803)
    If the primary concern is for unique visitor tallies for traffic-based advertising, wouldn't web sites be affected (mostly) across the board? If all web traffic is artificially inflated close to the same amount, then this becomes a non-issue.
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:51PM (#18770113) Journal

      If all web traffic is artificially inflated close to the same amount, then this becomes a non-issue.
      True. But I'm certain some websites have a higher proportion of visitors with cookies disabled... slashdot, for example. The trick, then, in order to make discrete visitor metrics truly useful (from a marketing standpoint) is to normalize for cookies-disabled visitors. Some factors that would have to be considered are how many cookies-disabled visitors access your site, and whether disabled visitors exhibit the same repeat visit habits as enabled visitors.

      This is why there is research out there to use methods other than cookies and IP addresses to identify users -- see this article [slashdot.org] from last September.

      I'm sure this concept can get some VC if companies begin distrusting current traffic anlayses -- it would be a useful adjunct to traditional traffic monitoring.
  • 150%? (Score:5, Informative)

    by catbutt (469582) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:37PM (#18769805)
    That assumes an awful lot of people do that.

    I don't do it because it is a pain to constantly log back in everywhere. But I seriously doubt more than 2% of the non-slashdot crowd does it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sparr0 (451780)
      No, it's just bad math and/or horrible reporting. The article states that 31% of visitors deleted their cookie. That means the increase in reported traffic might be (31%/69%)=45%. They probably meant an increase *OF* 50%, which is an increase *TO* 150%.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      I don't do it because it is a pain to constantly log back in everywhere.

      As someone who has cookies automatically deleted when I close my browser...

      You don't actually need to log in to every site you visit - Only if you want to buy or post something, in general (in fact, I prefer they can't track me while "just looking").

      And not only do I get a somewhat increased level of privacy, I get massively increased security as well - Someone needs to actually know my passwords, not just sit at my computer, to
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Beetle B. (516615)
      Use the CookieSafe extension. It'll let you easily:

      1. Whitelist sites whose cookies you want to keep.
      2. Blacklist cookies from some sites (doubleclick, anyone?).
      3. Set most other cookies to be killed after you exit FF.

      I know Firefox lets you do that anyway, but the difference is that Cookiesafe lets you do it easily.
    • by fermion (181285)
      It not help to accept the site cookies. Much of the tracking may be done with third party cookies, and browsers are increasingly able to manage these third party cookies automatically. Therefore all the 2o7, doubleclick and the like are never allowed on the computer.

      It seems to me that one of the advantages that google has is that they are a first party sites, and therefore likely have more valid cookies out in the wild. That is also on of the disadvantages of the doubleclick deal. Doubleclick is less

    • I tell firefox to treat all cookies as session cookies, with a whitelist of sites I trust or don't care if they track me. I stay logged in where I need to, and dump bad cookies without having the problems associated with not accepting cookies in the first place.
    • I don't delete cookies because I don't accept them in the first place. I explicitly allow the sites where I want to be tracked, of course, like Slashdot, but everywhere else the browser is set to block everything by default. If the site doesn't work without cookies, you can allow session cookies, which is usually enough. Or, just leave. There are likely to be plenty of other sites with the same information but without the stupid cookie requirement.
  • FTC, not FCC (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric@brouhahaPASCAL.com minus language> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:37PM (#18769821) Homepage Journal
    The FCC has little reason to investigate cookies.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:38PM (#18769839) Journal
    I delete cookies, permit them, leave them on, it is all my business. I am under no obligation to provide web site operators reliable count of how many uniqie visitors they get. They should stop complaining and develop better ways to count unique visitors. If they cant, it is still not my problem.
    • by catbutt (469582) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:47PM (#18770045)
      While I mostly agree with your sentiments (I don't think anyone said it was your obligation) --- to be the devil's advocate: if they can't make money and shut down their site, it does become your problem.
      • While I mostly agree with your sentiments (I don't think anyone said it was your obligation) --- to be the devil's advocate: if they can't make money and shut down their site, it does become your problem.

        No, that is most definitely still the website's problem. If they can't figure out how to stay afloat without forcing their customers to do something they don't want to do (like keeping cookies for example), the competition surely will. Failure is a good thing [cnn.com]; its a sign of a healthy economy.

      • by rhombic (140326)
        Many websites are entertaining to me, but there's not a single one whose disappearance would constitute a major problem for me.

      • Oh no! If this happens, the internet might become much less commercial!

      • by PingXao (153057)
        Actually, it's not my problem or anyone else's. For every website that goes under there are 3 more waiting to take their place. There is no website I visit that is indispensible.
      • by asninn (1071320)
        Do you honestly think that any website is going to shut down solely because people delete their tracking cookies?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jandrese (485)
      Sure, since neither cookies nor IP addresses are good ways to count traffic you'll start seeing an increase in sites that don't let you do anything until you register. Frankly, this is already happening. I've searched for plenty of technical questions on google that land me on forums that require you to register to even read the posts. This means you have to give them a valid (well long enough for you to get the confirmation) email address and username/password. The worst part is that a lot of times tho
      • by Zephyros (966835)

        I've searched for plenty of technical questions on google that land me on forums that require you to register to even read the posts.

        Try viewing Google's cache of that result. If the forum post is showing up as a search result, Googlebot must've been able to see it. That's worked for me in the past. It's not perfect, though -- if you have to dig into that forum any deeper than just that page, you're out of luck and have to go through the registration like you said. :/

      • I'm sure there are lots of reasons for doing it, but most bulletin boards that require registration in order to read, at least in my experience, do it in order to limit traffic, not count it. It's a way of keeping costs down, albeit at the expense of making the board less useful as a resource to the general public.

        Unfortunately the best board relating to Knoppmyth is like this; it was just too expensive for the maintainer to run openly; the traffic cost too much. By requiring registration to read, it cut do
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jandrese (485)
          See, I disagree there. This means a lot of the valuable information is locked up in a forum that people may well not find because it doesn't show up very highly in Google. The public may be better served by abandoning the guy on a shoestring budget and posting in forums that get indexed by search engines.
      • by asninn (1071320)

        I've searched for plenty of technical questions on google that land me on forums that require you to register to even read the posts. This means you have to give them a valid (well long enough for you to get the confirmation) email address and username/password. The worst part is that a lot of times those sites are really slow to send out the email and you're stuck waiting for it to solve your problem.

        http://www.bugmenot.com/ [bugmenot.com] is your friend - and there's also a Firefox extension [roachfiend.com]. :)

      • by Kalriath (849904)
        Then you fire off a report to Google that the site you found is engaging in cloaking, which Google doesn't allow - and let the site owner know you did so too. Losing Google ranking these days constitutes an internet death sentence to a site.
    • by prockcore (543967)

      They should stop complaining and develop better ways to count unique visitors. If they cant, it is still not my problem.


      They can make you login in order to do anything.. of course you'll complain about that even more.
  • by KenAndCorey (581410) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:39PM (#18769855)

    Cookiesafe allows me to keep my permanent cookies to a minimum, yet allow me all the functionality of session cookies. Of course, it does inflate the stats as the article mentions. In my previous job I worked with stats quite a bit (using WebSideStory/Hitbox), and it is such an inexact science that it ranks right up there with Lies and Damn Lies.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/249 7 [mozilla.org]

    Anyone have other suggested software they prefer?

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Web statistics is something that's extremely hard to track once you start talking about unique visitors. Ideally, you want to get this down to exactly how many actual people are using the site, but usually it comes down to the number of computers accessing the site, with people who delete cookies being counted as a new user. Some systems count each IP as a different user, but that doesn't account for users behind a NAT, or those with changing IP addresses. The idea is however, that those two groups cancel
  • Not a surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:41PM (#18769895) Homepage Journal
    ...though it may be to some people.

    Anonymous user stats are always going to be an estimate. Cookies aren't reliable, because people clear them. IP addresses aren't reliable, because some are dynamically generated, some are shared, and people move around.

    You can only really know how many users you have if (a) they're registered and (b) they visit the site while logged in. (And even then, people could be sharing accounts -- bugmenot, anyone?)

    Personally, I don't think this is a problem, as long as you're willing to look at the estimates for what they are and not treat them as if they were precise.

    Hmm... how long before someone claims that Firefox's/Opera's/Safari's stats are inflated because they make it easier to wipe cookies than IE?
    • Cookies aren't reliable, because people clear them.

      That's not the only reason. If you surf the same site from work and from home, you inevitably will be counted as two different users, no matter what you do with your cookies. I'm sure that alone will increase the user count of certain web sites by a high margin (I guess for Google it will probably mean an almost doubled user count). The same is true if you happen to have several computers, e.g. a desktop and a laptop, not sharing the browser data (which esp

  • i think this is very wrong. who counts the number of cookies as bandwidth? the bandwidth is measured at the routers, if it's not, then dont read too much into bandwidth estimates as it's nothing more than a wet finger in the air.
    • by cpghost (719344)
      In fact, it's measurable. Setting and reporting cookies (one line of HTTP per cookie) itself doesn't really influence bandwidth. It's not even a blip on the radar. BUT if websites generate different content based on the cookies (new user content, returning visitor content), and if the content size is significantly different in both cases, then bandwidth usage could go up (or down)... quite measurably sometimes.
  • But every time you delete cookies, many of the sites you've visited count you as a new visitor next time.

    Yea in like 1999 this was true. Don't most websites that actually care about traffic or try to reasonably measure it go off of UNIQUE VISITORS? I think the most basic of webstats programs for 5+ years now know and show the difference. What exactly is the point of all this? Who realistically tracks their users and bases their counts off of cookies? This is absurd. IP address has been the standard for quite some time now.

    • by jonnythan (79727)
      So how do they differentiate between the 600 employees at my company that use a standard browser installation and share an IP address?
      • by madsheep (984404)
        Exactly? So how do you distinguish between that company with 2000 users with a standard load browser that does not accept cookies and they all go out a proxy? You can try and track every single user in the world, but most to any given site won't be going out a shared proxy. IP address has, is, and will be the way to go.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Todd Knarr (15451)

      Unfortunately IP address doesn't work. NAT can put anywhere from a couple (small home network) to thousands (corporate networks) of individual machines behind a single IP address. The common ISP practice of using dynamic addresses can result in a single machine having anywhere from one address for years at a time to a different address every hour. Most web-statistics companies have abandoned IP addresses as a valid identifier.

      Most of them do in fact rely on cookies of one sort or another. Most rely on brow

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Wouldn't putting thousands of users behind a single IP address via NAT create some problems? From my understanding, when you connect through a NAT, it gives you a port, and anything coming back over that port goes back to your computer. So if you have 5000 users, and there's 65000 ports, that's only 13 ports per user. I guess that not everyone would be connecting all the time, but what is the effective limit of number of people you can have behind a single IP address?
        • by Todd Knarr (15451)

          Most people aren't running connections continuously. Web browsing in particular uses ports on a very short-term basis. The hardware also handles the problem to a degree, either delaying until a port's available or simply rejecting the attempt and letting the browser handle it. To users this appears as just normal slow-downs and errors. Errors in particular people tend to ignore. How often have you seen the broken-image link on a page and thought "Oh, another glitch." and paid it no more mind? As ad-laden as

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Eivind (15695)
          The practical limit for users doing websurfing is huge. 13 ports per user is much much more than you need, infact 1 port pr user may be more than you need.

          A single TCP-connection is identified by a quad: ip and port for the two destinations.

          So, you only really need a new source-port for every internal user who visits the same site.

          NAT is implemented by maintaining an internal table of what external ips/ports should be mapped to which internal ip/port. An example:

          • Internal machine X makes a connecti
  • If I go to the site twice, I go twice. If I delete my cache, I have to re-request everything on the page. In any case, I _AM_ causing more traffic.

    It would be like saying you don't count as traffic for streets you've previously driven on.
  • Umm... So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @01:43PM (#18769957) Journal
    But every time you delete cookies, many of the sites you've visited count you as a new visitor next time.

    I have Firefox clear my cookies on browser close... So I look like a new visitor every time I visit a site.

    Perhaps someone would explain to me why I should care about this? The only use I can see for unique visitor counts (other than the trivia value) involves ad revenue - And I aggressively block almost all adverts, so don't care about that, either.
    • by prockcore (543967)

      Perhaps someone would explain to me why I should care about this?


      Perhaps you could explain to us why you care so much that you have set up your browser to delete cookies when you close your browser?
      • by pla (258480)
        Perhaps you could explain to us why you care so much that you have set up your browser to delete cookies when you close your browser?

        Simple, real example.

        I do most of my holiday shopping online, largely from Amazon.

        Every year, once I log in, Amazon innundates me with front-page crap related to what I bought for other people. I have zero interest in golf, for example, but buy a particular Ping driver for a relative, and suddenly I start seeing all the greatest new books from guys I've never heard of
  • But every time you delete cookies, many of the sites you've visited count you as a new visitor next time."

    Huh? Isn't the entire POINT of cookies pretty much so sites recognize you when you return? Sorry, but this statement wins todays "No Duh" award.

  • it's the server sending the cookies, not the user. in fact, if the user is deleting the cookies then the HTTP request the user sends to the server is using less bandwidth. it's not my fault the server keeps sending me these god damn cookies.
    • I don't think it's a question of fault. This is really a warning to webmasters, and to the advertisers who use the statistics.

      I'm hard pressed to say how this is news exactly. It's really a press release from a company called comScore. Betcha they've got a service to provide more accurate counts that they'd be happy to sell you.
  • is this article actually implying that web-sites decide whether or not to send you and updated file or assume you have the file cached based on the cookie? no, no sane web developer would do that.

    yes, deleting your cookies may cause the server to user more resources (because it will have to add another row to it's "unique visitors" table in the database), but that is not "web traffic".

    the only bandwidth i could possibly think of is that which is being used to specifically send the cookie to the client. and
  • by chinard (555270) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:08PM (#18770439)
    ...god kills a kitten!
    • by DreamerFi (78710) <john@@@sinteur...com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:00PM (#18771385) Homepage
      Approximately 70,000 [icraeastbay.org] dogs and cats are born in the U.S. each day, or 25,567,500 each year. Of these, roughly 54% [petpopulation.org], or 13,806,450, are cats. Since 34.5% [rapidvet.com] of cats don't live to see their first birthday, we can assume that about 4,763,225 kittens die each year in the United States alone. We'll take for granted that God in His divine Wisdom purposely smote each of these kittens.

      Let's assume that the idiom is talking only about male masturbation. Let's further assume, highly conservatively, that males do not start masturbating until they reach age 15. Of the total U.S. male population, 107,199,356 [census.gov] would then be masturbation-age males. Again, let's conservatively estimate that teenagers masturbate no more frequently than adults, and that all men masturbate an average of 20 times [wikipedia.org] each month or 240 times per year. This means that each man in the United States masturbates approximately every 1.5 days. It also means that there are approximately 25,727,845,440 male masturbation sessions in the United States each year.

      There are nearly 26 billion male masturbation sessions in the U.S., yet there are fewer than five million kitten deaths annually. Far from a one-to-one correlation, there are 5401.5 masturbation sessions for every single kitten death. This means that the average American man can masturbate regularly for 22.5 years before he is responsible for the death of a single kitten. Indeed, with a life expectancy of less than 75 years, the average man will be responsible for only two or three kitten deaths in a lifetime of vigorous masturbation.

  • by Xenna (37238) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:20PM (#18770651)
    I use a PC at work.
    And another one at home, well even two sometimes.
    And a smart phone equipped with a browser.

    So I inflate web usage statistics with 100 to 300%?

    And then there are people sharing the same PC/account deflating the stats...

    All of us who host websites know how unreliable statistics are. Nothing new there...

    X.
  • Yeah, we know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:36PM (#18770959) Homepage Journal
    As the article from 2005 that I linked to in a comment from yesterday [slashdot.org], advertisers are going apeshit over people like me who delete cookies and skew their traffic results.


    Oh boo hoo, cry me a river. Produce something people want and they'll come back time and again and you won't have to worry about your traffic.

  • by bahwi (43111) <[incoming] [at] [josephguhlin.com]> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @03:34PM (#18771893) Homepage
    As soon as you log on to a site connected with certain advertisers your brand new not you unique cookie is again linked back to your old account thru backend calls between advertisers and accounts. Yeah, there's a minor % that is wrong because of people using other's computers, but it's better than having people delete cookies being new customers again. Yeah, a lot of random sites you probably will never go to again don't know you from one to the other, but others get who you are from your cookie linked to their advertiser, and as soon as you log in to any of the sites that have the same advertiser, you're linked up again and some sites do it retroactively. Of course, if you want privacy, better than a cookie blocker is actually adblock and the filterset.g updater. Those give you more privacy than deleting your cookies. But yes, it's possible to track you past the cookies.

    There's a few fingerprinting companies out there, track you by stuff plugins give away(dates, versions, etc.. anything the plugin will give up). I've even heard of a company using the time offset from your computer from your web browser(which passes the time back in milliseconds since 1970, IIRC) and combined with some other methods it really helps you track people down. Not to mention you can combine all this with your IP address and you're pretty good. But deleting cookies doesn't really help you, it's more of a minor inconvenience to the small companies who don't really care to track you that much, and a tiny hurdle to larger companies who do care and who are already doing it and some that even know you before the cookie. (Don't accept cookies? Check for that, and IP address, flash version, time offset(if it's possible), what plugins are installed via navigator.plugins and you're pretty close to a positive ID. Of course there are many other ways and I don't know any of them. So, delete your cookies if you want, but realize it's not much of a help.

    Adblock is, and ultimately those who really want to track you probably can.
  • Why would I care? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rbowen (112459) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @04:25PM (#18772663) Homepage
    I simply don't care, and can't fathom why I should care. It is not, never has been, and never will be my responsibility to ensure the accuracy of statistical reports on sites that I visit. What data is stored on my personal computer is my business, and nobody else's. Is there seriously anybody who thinks that this is actual news? Are there seriously people who are able to get funding for such intuitively obvious research? Where do I get my cut?
  • Since when did cookies go wireless? I though the FDA might look into issues with cookies... those darn girl scouts!
  • OMG!!! Do not delete those cookies!!!1one

    Every time you delete a cookie god kills a kitten.

              -dZ.

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