Evercookies for Christmas

Mom makes the best cookies ever. No one can change that fact. Argue all you like, but you will never be able to change that fact. On Christmas Eve, we leave a glass of milk and a plate of Mom’s cookies for Santa.  At night, when we are all asleep, the fat guy sneaks in with his elves to stuff our stockings and pile gifts under the tree. Even Santa knows Mom makes the best cookies ever.

However, in the technical world of code writing and tracking devices, the evercookie is the best cookie ever. No one can beat the evercookie, not even its wimpier cousin the super cookie. And if you share your evercookie with Santa, you will be rewarded with an abundance of gifts. The evercookie is a tracking device that will never go away. It is the ultimate cookie. As one anonymous tech observer put it in her blog the buzznutter:

“Ever Cookie’, coupled with headlines such as’ the browser cookie that will not die ‘,’ The most indelible cookie ‘or’ the one cookie that you … just … can ‘t … DELETE! ” fluttered through my RSS reader. Would a cookie not to be deleted is not the dream come true for every affiliate? For so it should work to ensure transactions can understand – even if the browser cache and cookies will be deleted.”

A recent, little noticed New York Times article provided a bit of the cookie history. The evercookie was created by Samy Kamkar. Kamkar is the same guy that created the Samy Worm, which he placed on MySpace and added over a million new friends to his MySpace page in less than 24 hours. Kamkar has not sold the code to his new evercookie. Rather he made it available to the public domain for anyone to use. And as you can see if you link to The Buzz Nutter article, many techies looking for better ways to track users habits have already started using evercookies.

Most people believe that if they go to their browser’s privacy options, they can block or clear all the actions, cookies, and caches on their computer. However, evercookies seems to go around the browsers and anti-virus technology by tricking the browsers. Even technology experts are having a hard time removing an evercookie. Here is how Kamkar explains his new technology:

“evercookie is a javascript API available that produces extremely persistent cookies in a browser. Its goal is to identify a client even after they’ve removed standard cookies, Flash cookies (Local Shared Objects or LSOs), and others.

Evercookie accomplishes this by storing the cookie data in several types of storage mechanisms that are available on the local browser. Additionally, if evercookie has found the user has removed any of the types of cookies in question, it recreates them using each mechanism available.”

Once this technology gets into the hands of corporations, there is no telling what kind of access they will have to the personal computers within our homes. According the recent New York Times article, class-action lawsuits have already arisen due to major media companies violating users’ privacy with similar technology:

A recent spate of class-action lawsuits have accused large media companies like the Fox Entertainment Group and NBC Universal, and technology companies like Clearspring Technologies and Quantcast, of violating users’ privacy by tracking their online activities even after they took steps to prevent that.”

This Christmas tracking businesses have already started flirting with the new evercookies. According to just one of the seven expert interviews provided in the Buzznutter noted:

“Of course we are looking around constantly, tracking what new opportunities there. Ever cookie, we also considered and find the approach very exciting. At this time, some techniques used by Ever Cookie still very sluggish, so that they can not be used in a production environment are. Some of these techniques, however, we will look at more detail. Furthermore, it will not be possible, Ever cookie as it is to be used, since there are a few legal hurdles are. We will issue but in any case continue to observe the parts of it and use if necessary. ” – Korbinian Pauli , Head of Technology & Technical Services, Tradedoubler

And so, while we were all sleeping, the fat man and his elves snuck into our homes, ate the cookies, and stuffed our stocking with all kinds of new and wonderful ways to track our every move.  Ho, Ho, Ho, Scary Christmas.

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1 Comment

Filed under Interviews and News Articles

One response to “Evercookies for Christmas

  1. Dani Heart

    This kind of thing makes me not want to shop online. It really isn’t anyone’s businesss what I purchase. It makes me angry. I hope they get the shit sued out of them.

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