W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > ietf-http-wg-old@w3.org > January to April 1997

RE: Unverifiable Transactions / Cookie draft

From: Steve Madere <madere@dejanews.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 11:32:35 -0600 (CST)
Message-Id: <199703181732.LAA20288@homer.dejanews.com>
To: http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com

I think it is important to remember that what DoubleClick, FocalLink,
and GlobalTrack use cookies for is to deliver controllable advertising.

Advertising is what will pay for most of the useful services on the
web.  I think most people recognize this now.  It is important to 
advertisers to be able to know the number of unique individuals who
see their message and to be able to control it.  (eg:  show this ad
three times to each person)

One does not have to know who the user is to accomplish this.  All one 
needs to know is that they are the same person that was already shown
this ad three times so we should show another one now.

There is no need to violate anybody's privacy to achieve this goal.  This
is in fact exactly what is achieved with a serial-number cookie.  Now, 
if you take away the auto-cookie capability, sites will be forced to 
require users to register and "login" to get this kind of control.

The "login" model is a serious step back in privacy.  Suddenly, we not 
only know it is the same person that was here earlier, we know it is a 
particular person with a particular email address etc.

The cookie method is more likely to remain anonymous since it is 
actually easier to administer anonymously than with a known identity
for each user.  The "login" method on the other hand is easier to administer
if you require the users to identify themselves.  Given that "more information 
is always better" to an advertiser, most sites using the "login" method will 
fall to the temptation of requiring all kinds of personal information 
from their users to grant access.  (eg: income, address, etc.)

The inherint convenience in the "anonymous cookie" method has driven the
market so far toward a much more anonyous method of controlling advertising
delivery.  If you take that away, get ready to register at every 
useful site and give up all semblence of privacy.

Do you actually think all of these sites will continue to provide these
extremely valuable and *expensive to operate* services if they can't
provide highly controllable and measurable advertising?  If you respond
that sites will simply "revert to a pay-per-view subscription model" you
are really missing the point.  The pay-per-view folks always get a ton
of personal information on you and then *sell it directly to other
people*.  Have you ever noticed that every time you order something from
a catalog, new catalogs from 5 other companies suddenly arrive at your
door two weeks later?  

Switching to a user registration model always cedes more privacy than 
"anonymous tagging".

more comments in the text below...

On Fri, 14 Mar 1997, M Hedlund wrote:
> On Fri, 14 Mar 1997, Yaron Goland wrote:
> 
> > Rather my point is that I do not believe that you have helped protect
> > user privacy [...]
> 
> Okay, well we disagree on this.  Besides, if you are right and there is no
> privacy protection, then why make any changes?  Doubleclick can simply use
> something other than cookies!  If we afford no privacy protection in this
> draft, then we do no harm to Doubleclick (and any other similar
> businesses).
> 
> > [...]  but I do believe that you have hurt a lot of smaller web
> > sites who are trying to make a living on the web and thus contributed to
> > the reduction of diversity on the web. I believe that the outcome is
> > undesirable.
> 
> I suspect that the number of businesses who have based their whole revenue
> model on cookie sharing is extremely low, and that no such outcome will
> occur.
> 

Any site that lives off of advertising will soon depend heavily on cookies
for their whole revenue model.  In case you haven't noticed, this includes
basically *all* of the most useful resources on the web.

Now, it is true that a really large site can afford put in an ad management
system of their own and you'll still have the "anonymous cookie" method
in wide use (but *only* at large well-funded sites).

Sites that cannot afford to create their own ad management systems would
go out of business in the face of competion of larger sites with much
better advertising control.  Their only choice is to join a network
of centralized advertising delivery because it is too expensive for them
to sell their advertising directly themselves.

Nuking centralized ad management is indeed nuking smaller advertising
supported websites and only those sites.

But take heart, they can always switch to the subscription model and
then sell other people your address and annual income.

Steve Madere

> 
> M. hedlund <hedlund@best.com>
Received on Tuesday, 18 March 1997 10:04:10 EST

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