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A Name By Any Other Rose

Posted 2012.02.22 9.15 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Recently there has been a bit of a kerfuffle on teh interwebz about Google’s most recent privacy violations. While I’m not sure lawsuits will help, I suppose they’ll at least keep the evil empire in the spotlight for another minute or two. It’s not just Apple’s Safari either, Microsoft has also come forward and said Google is fucking with its users too.

For those who aren’t up-to-date on this latest scam, it’s about Google knowingly exploiting some issues that allow them to install cookies on users’ computers, even if the users have specifically blocked 3rd party / advertisers cookies in their settings. So if you visit site xyz.com you would expect to only maybe have a cookie from xyz.com but instead you get that plus a dozen others from scummy advertising sites like google or doubleclick.net.

So while the tech blogs and news sites have been thrashing it out a little, I’m just waiting for security updates to patch these holes and end the exploits. In the meantime I’ve been deleting all the cookies from my system, and modified my hosts file to redirect some of these jerks to nowhere.

While doing this, I’ve also been puzzling over why a lot of people don’t seem to care about third parties sideloading cookies onto their computers. I mean, they say it’s only a few kB of data, it’s not like it’s a virus or anything, right?

Well, ok, it’s only a few kB and ok it’s not a virus. But that’s not the point.

The point is, I’ve gone into my settings and set it so that no, third parties and advertisers do not have my permission to install shit on my computer. So when they find ways to bypass my settings, to essentially override my personal preferences and say Hey, we’re going to install our things on your computer and you can’t stop us – well that’s frankly a bit of a piss off.

It’s worse when you recognize what the point of these cookies are: they are there to track you. Track what sites you visit. What your interests are. And the more data they get, the more they know about you.

Last night I had a bit of a revelation. I think a big problem is that these things were named Cookies. That makes them sound all fun and cute and harmless. Oh it’s just a cookie. Nom nom nom. Would people be as ambivalent about them if they were referred to as, say, Web Turds?

I think not. I think people would automatically get a bit more wary if they realized that almost every website they visited meant that another dozen advertisers were leaving stinky little piles of Web Turds in the corners of their computer.