[linux-elitists] doubleclick.net cookies for all!

Doc Searls doc@searls.com
Sun Jul 2 14:37:12 PDT 2000


Lemme see if I read the "DoubleClick Opt-Out" BS right.

It's at 
<http://www.doubleclick.com/company_info/about_doubleclick/privacy/pri 
vacy2.htm>.


"WHAT HAPPENS IF I CHOOSE TO OPT OUT?
The system will assign you the following cookie:
id=OPT_OUT

"By receiving this cookie, our systems will know that you have opted 
out and will not attempt to assign other cookies in the future. Since 
the opt-out cookie does not contain a unique user ID number, it does 
not allow us to identify your computer uniquely."

Hmm. I have opted out of *what*? It doesn't say. And what does that 
mean by "you... will not attempt to assign other cookies in the 
future."? It's doubletalk, but what does it mask? I want DoubleClick 
to stop giving me cookies, and to ignore any information that might 
come from the Web bugs its clients secretly plant in my cookie jar. 
Does an id=OPT-OUT turn off only DoubleClick cookies, or all cookies? 
It doesn't look like it turns off other cookies. Hard to tell.

"WHAT ARE COOKIES?
Cookies, which are small text files recorded in a user's hard drive, 
are employed by thousands of sites to enhance user's Web viewing 
experience. Cookies cannot damage user files, nor can they read 
information from a user's hard drive. Cookies allow sites and 
advertisers to "remember" users across pages of a site and across 
multiple visits to a site. This feature enables e-commerce and 
Internet advertising in numerous ways, including:
1	Allowing personalization features such as stock portfolio 
tracking and targeted news stories
2	Allowing shopping sessions and quick navigation across 
multiple zones of e-commerce sites
3	Remembering user names and passwords for future visits
4	Controlling ad frequency, or the number of times a user sees a given ad
5	And, delivering advertisements targeted to a user's interests"

Fine, except that all DoubleClick does is the advertising-related 
stuff, mostly #4 and #5. It has shit to do with the more desirable 
stuff in #1 and #2 (and #3, with a trusted site).

"WHY SHOULDN'T I OPT OUT OF THIS COOKIE?
DoubleClick believes all users should have a positive Web experience."

Bullshit. "Experience" is the new buzzbull that e-vertizers use to 
hide intrusion  behind entertainment language. There is a BIG fucking 
difference between a voluntary and an involuntary "experience." Big 
enough to qualify the claim as a lie.

"Because of this belief, we allow advertisers to control the 
frequency (the number of times) a Web user sees an ad banner."

Tranlation: "We allow our clients to decide how often a potential 
customer gets blindsided by an unwanted 'experience.'"

"We also deliver advertising based on a user's interests if that user 
has chosen to receive targeted advertising."

Chosen? What choices are there in an opt-out system that 99.99x% of 
the users don't know about, and which appears in the lower right-hand 
corner DoubleClick's front page in (I quote) <FONT SIZE="1"></font> 
type?

"We believe that frequency control, and relevant content makes 
advertising on the Web less intrusive by ensuring that users are not 
bombarded with repeat and irrelevant ad messages. Opting-out removes 
our ability both to control frequency of exposure to individual users 
and to increase the level of relevant content."

This is where I'm missing something. What I want is for my browser to 
cease all conversation with DoubleClick. Does clicking on "Opt Out 
Click Here ->|" do that?

Has the protocol defect described at InterHack 
<http://www.interhack.net/pubs/dc-proto-fail/> been corrected?

I see DoubleClick isn't the only one to use this id=OPT_OUT protocol. 
Check out iBalls: <http://www.iballs.com/privacy.html> Notice the 
identicality of language with DoubleClick under "Why shouldn't I 
opt-out?" Tells me this language is *highly lawyered."

Check out "PrivacyChoices.org" -- "Your resource for online privacy 
information." It says *nothing* about DoubleClick, cookies, and 
opting out that isn't on the 'opt out' page on DoubleClick's own 
site. These guys are right out of the Phillip Morris school of 
bullshit relations.

This site here <http://www.tcs.org/ioport/apr00/doubleclick.htm> 
gives me a little more information, but no confidence that 
DoubleClick is doing anything here that isn't PR. I see that this 
site has counted a whopping 000031 visits.

So I don't know. But I need to know before I rip these guys a new asshole.

Being a bit less technical than most of ya'll, maybe you can help me 
a bit here.

Doc


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Doc Searls
Senior Editor, Linux Journal
doc@ssc.com
http://www.linuxjournal.com
Office: 544 Oak Park Way, Emerald Hills, CA 94062-4038
Phone: (650) 361-1324  Cell: (206) 849-9586  Fax: (650) 361-1348
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