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Old 04-17-2010, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Tennessee/Michigan
28,392 posts, read 48,139,882 times
Reputation: 20033

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Do you ever get creeped out when an ad on a Web site seems to know something about you? Maybe the ad is from a business located only in your town, or the ad seems to know that you are recently single? Are these just good guesses or is the Internet profiling you? The answer to this question is tangled in the roots of a relatively secretive multibillion-dollar industry.

Restrictions Sought for Internet Data Profiling - ABC News
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:44 AM
 
40,161 posts, read 41,766,549 times
Reputation: 16735
Quote:
Compel companies to make the collection of data an opt-in scenario where consumers intentionally choose to participate as opposed to the opt-out options that presently exist for some publishers.
The consumer already has complete control of this through their browser cookie settings.
Quote:
In the meantime consumers who want to protect their privacy have few options: the best one can hope to do is create a confused profile or multiple profiles that will prevent companies from fully knowing who you are.

Many people advocate rejecting cookies, but after a maddening afternoon of trying to search the Internet with cookies set to "off" or "notify" I can't advise it.
Wrong. You're going to have to allow some cookies but this is not that complicated. In IE for example clear all your cookies, go into the cookie options and set them all to off. When you visit a site that wants to set a cookie you'll get a little red icon in the lower right. You can double click this icon to geta list of domains trying to set cookies for that page. Allow the domains you want, for example if you come here you're going to want to allow city-data.com to set cookies or the auto login won't work. If you see anything else from other domains like Google you can ignore it. Only the domain that sets the cookie can access it.

FF does not have a similar feature but there is an extension that will do the same thing.

Once you have been surfing around for a few days most of the sites you'll want to whitelist will have already been added.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:53 AM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
11,319 posts, read 22,730,215 times
Reputation: 3895
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecoalman View Post
The consumer already has complete control of this through their browser cookie settings.
Don't kid yourself .. there are a number of ways to obtain information about a user or the browser/platform they are using without requiring cookies.

Do you really know what that Facebook application is pulling from your profile?

How many companies make money by selling their customer lists?

Etc.

A search engine doesn't have to use a cookie to see your IP address, your login name (if it requires a sign-on), or to generate a unique signature based on browser version info + screen resolution + other factors and store info based on that. You might find this interesting:

Panopticlick
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:25 AM
 
40,161 posts, read 41,766,549 times
Reputation: 16735
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcsteiner View Post
Don't kid yourself .. there are a number of ways to obtain information about a user or the browser/platform they are using without requiring cookies.
Correct, you send that information as a user agent string with every request you make for a web page. While there is no browser I'm aware of that specifically allows you to block that information "out of the box". Browsers like FF provide that ability through extensions, you can block it or even change it but you may end up being blocked from websites or find broken layouts. Some sites will block traffic from unknown or bad user agents, some even use that string to serve specific style sheets based of that browser and any bugs it might have.

Why would any care if a website has that information anyway?

Quote:
A search engine doesn't have to use a cookie to see your IP address, your login name (if it requires a sign-on), or to generate a unique signature based on browser version info + screen resolution + other factors and store info based on that.
You can't hide you IP from anyone unless you use a proxy server in which case the IP of the proxy server is seen. By using a service that you have signed up for you are willingly giving that information up, the responsibility of the site owner begins and ends with adhering to the privacy policy they have.

If you want to come to my site and use a service I'm offering I get to set the terms not you. If you don't like the terms you can always not use the service.
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Old 04-25-2010, 03:19 AM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
11,319 posts, read 22,730,215 times
Reputation: 3895
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecoalman View Post
Why would any care if a website has that information anyway?
Most people don't care. That wasn't my point.

The point is that such information is unsolicited, doesn't require cookies, and can be used along with other bits of information to create which can be (in many if not most cases) a unique fingerprint for your browser which might well allow me to track your behavior on my web site and across any others I happen to control ... all without your knowledge or consent.

If my web site is a search engine that acts as a portal to other sites, like a Google or Bing, I might be able to determine all sorts of interesting things about the search terms you use and the sites you choose to click on.

Again, all without cookies, and all without your explicit consent.

Quote:
If you want to come to my site and use a service I'm offering I get to set the terms not you. If you don't like the terms you can always not use the service.
Web site owners are not the folks who need to be concerned, and I can only assume that your own legitimate users have no need to be concerned about you, either.

The topic is dangers related to online profiling, and I'm simply telling you that your above comment about users being able to control that sort of thing via cookies is misleading at best, and may be an outright dangerous assertion.
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