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

Re: Unverifiable Transactions / Cookie draft

From: Scott Lawrence <lawrence@agranat.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 13:46:51 -0500
Message-Id: <199703181846.NAA19237@devnix.agranat.com>
To: Steve Madere <madere@dejanews.com>
Cc: http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com

>>>>> "SM" == Steve Madere <madere@dejanews.com> writes:

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

  I believe that the archives of this list show that there is ample
  awareness of this - what is in dispute is whether or not that is a
  good thing.

SM> Advertising is what will pay for most of the useful services on the
SM> web.  I think most people recognize this now.

  I certainly recognize no such thing.  The web is so new that almost
  nothing can be said about its future with certainty.  There are a
  good many people putting a lot of work into micro-payment
  technologies, for example, who clearly believe that other revenue
  models are viable.

  Even if it were true, the concerns expressed by contributors to this
  discussion are every bit as legitimate an element of this discussion
  as any commercial interest.  I dare say that the perception of
  reasonable privacy and the potential for control of personal
  information will have as much to do with the continued acceptance of
  the web as the revenue expectations of advertisers.  Would you like
  the list of all the videos you've looked at on store shelves to be
  available?  How about the list of all the videos Bill Clinton has
  ever looked at?

SM> It is important to advertisers to be able to know the number of
SM> unique individuals who see their message and to be able to control
SM> it.  (eg: show this ad three times to each person)

  I find this claim amazing.

  First, advertisers have never had this ability before.  No other
  major advertising medium: newspapers, magazines, billboards, or
  television (all of which have traditionally been paid for primarily
  by advertising) provide any such information; they provide at best
  very rough estimates.  I certainly wish that I could ensure that I
  would never see certain television advertisements again.

  Second, the claim that agencies have this capability with current
  technology has been amply debunked here and elsewhere.  If any
  business is making claims to advertisers today that they are
  providing any such count without a large margin of error, then they
  are either mistaken or not being completely honest.

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

  To assume that advertisers will not correlate identity information
  received as a part of some transaction with the cookie serial number
  is, IMHO, naive.

SM> [...] The "login" method on the other hand is easier to administer
SM> if you require the users to identify themselves.  Given that "more
SM> information is always better" to an advertiser, most sites using
SM> the "login" method will fall to the temptation of requiring all
SM> kinds of personal information from their users to grant access.
SM> (eg: income, address, etc.) ... get ready to register at every
SM> useful site and give up all semblance of privacy.

  At least then the user will be aware of who is collecting what
  information and be able to make their choices accordingly - I know
  which institutions will get my business.

  I believe that those who are advocating this change are doing so
  simply to reduce their own costs of doing business; as at least one
  person has pointed out, the agencies can continue to collect cookie
  data by providing the sites using their ad stream with programs to
  forward the appropriate information.  In such a case I would at
  least know to whom I have given data and can make my choices
  accordingly.

--
Scott Lawrence             Principal Engineer        <lawrence@agranat.com>
Agranat Systems, Inc.                               http://www.agranat.com/
Received on Tuesday, 18 March 1997 11:03:31 EST

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