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Re: lynx-dev Cookies and command line operation

From: David Woolley
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Cookies and command line operation
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999 12:01:33 +0100 (BST)

> There's nothing bad that cookies can do.  They can't cause someone to be
> able to break into my system, they can't crash my system.  They're just
> information that the site puts there, and THAT SITE can read it back.

The bad things that persistent cookies do is to to invade your privacy;
in fact, that is more or less the only reason that they exist (even where
they are used as an alternative to a formal login procedure, it is not for
your convenience, but to make it easier to login and therefore easier for
them to identify you as an individual).

In literature aimed at commercial users of commercial log analysis software
"click-trails" is a selling point - click trails is the ability to put
together apparanently isolated requests and reconstruct your browser 

How would you react if every customer in a department store were followed
by someone with a note pad making detailed notes of what they looked at
and the order they did it (note that supermarkets do profile your purchases
using store cards, loyalty cards, etc.).

Most session cookies are benign, except that, with a little thought, they
could be eliminated without loss of function.  They do serve the dubious
purpose of creating general tolerance of cookies, although I note that IE5
supposedly allows one to selectively block persistent cookies - presumably
as a result of the public reaction against them.

See to get a real flavour of what commercial
web sites are up to.

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