Internet Users Say they would Rather Not Share the Cookies' WSJ (fwd)

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 14 Feb 96 12:39:03 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 09:20:29 -0800 (PST)
From: Marc Hedlund <>
Subject: Internet Users Say they would Rather Not Share the Cookies' WSJ (fwd)

This is interesting -- I haven't seen much public mention of cookies
before this. FYI.

Marc Hedlund, Organic Online <>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 08:37:39 -0800 (PST)
From: Michael Brodesky <>
Subject: Internet Users Say they would Rather Not Share the Cookies' WSJ

Netscape Communications Corp., responding to complaints from consumers,
said it will change its Internet browser software so customers can prevent
on-line merchants from tracking their footsteps in cyberspace.

The ruckus began Monday, when the Financial Times reported on a
little-known feature in Netscape software called cookies. Cookies help
merchants on the Internet's multimedia World Wide Web track what customers
do in their stores, and how long they spend doing it.

The cookies data are stored on the customer's own hard drive, (in a text
file called ''cookies.txt'' in the Netscape directory). The next time the
customer visits the merchant's store, the merchant can read about the
customer's last visit, and serve up a version of the store that's tailored
for the customer.

Cookies won't show merchants what other stores the customer has visited.

Net surfers have complained on-line about the feature, saying it's an
invasion of privacy and that it ties up the resources of their own

Netscape, the Mountain View, Calif., maker of the No. 1 Internet browsing
software, says it didn't think people might object to cookies, because
merchants can track a customer's footsteps even without cookies, and few
have complained about that. Product manager Jeff Treuhaft contends cookies
actually help customers, because among other things, they allow customers
to buy several things from different parts, or ''pages,'' of an Internet
store, and only pay once, instead of once at every page.

Also, the Internet's standards board, called the Internet Engineering Task
Force, has asked Netscape to propose cookies as a standard for the
Internet, Netscape said.

Still, Netscape agreed to change the software. In future versions of
Netscape, customers will have the choice of refusing to let a merchant lay
down ''a persistent cookie,'' Mr. Treuhaft says, referring to cookies that
track customer movements for days, weeks or months, instead of just a
single Internet session, as most do. ''We want to give the user as much
control as possible,'' Mr. Treuhaft says.