I'll be responding to your concerns about my knowledge level & explanation of cookies, and I'll be adding comments as to the importance & concern of website owners using tracking cookies as I explain.
>>*A cookie is not a program<<
Joel claims to be extremely inexperienced & uneducated in regards to computers and their usage...as are MANY folks on Curezone. I used the term "program" simply to get a point across without typing in paragraphs of confusing information. To most people, anything that automatically does something on a computer without them telling it to do it, IS a "program".
>>* A cookie is usually two lines, an identifier for the web site, and a random identifier for your browser<<
Hello? only an identifier for the website (what reason would anyone have to identify their OWN website??!) ...and a RANDOM identifier for my browser? My browser is Netscape or Internet Explorer. But tracking cookies collect one's IP address. And an IP address IS CERTAINLY NOT a RANDOM IDENTIFIER. It is a VERY SPECIFIC identifier, from which your physical location, identity, email address and other information can quickly be obtained by ANY organization or person that has access to the cookie information. And that includes any government organization that decides they want that information...all they have to do is "request" it from Homestead.com and Homestead.com is REQUIRED to give them their collected data.
Joel's tracking cookies are not two line identifiers for his website or random identifiers...they include my IP address, a LOT of encoded information, and they are EIGHT LINES LONG.
>>* ONLY THE SITE THAT WRITES THE COOKIE CAN READ THE COOKIE. WHEN YOU LEAVE, IT HAS NO VALUE FOR ANY OTHER WEBSITE<<
Absolutely ANYBODY that has the encryption key can read a cookie (and they can be stored indefinitely)...it has value for the owner of the website AND for the site that hosts the website (as they can sell the information if they choose).
>>A cookie can be used to track your clicks through a site, by reaffirming who you are everytime you land on a new page.<<
You said that a cookie is only a RANDOM browser identifier, and now you say a cookie can identify "who you are". The IP Address reported back to the information gathering site tells who is operating the computer, just as much as your street address tells who lives in the house. Session cookies are not of significance to this issue. Shopping carts certainly are not, because Joel's website is collecting personal data WITHOUT even using a shopping cart!
Here are some definitions of cookies taken from a quick Internet search of "what is a cookie":
--A small text file of information that certain Web sites attach to a user's hard drive while the user is browsing the Web site. A Cookie can contain information such as user ID, user preferences, archive shopping cart information, etc. Cookies can contain Personally Identifiable Information
--A web server can send "cookie" information down to a web browser, which will then supply that information back to the server along with each subsequent request...
--A Cookie is a piece of software which records information about you. It holds this information until such time that the server requests it...
--A small text file placed on your hard drive by a web site to record information about you...
--A small piece of information a web site leaves on a visitor's computer when the visitor visits a site. Cookies are used to remember information about a visitor to be used at a later time.
--A file on your computer that records information such as where you have been on the World Wide Web. The browser stores this information which allows a site to remember the browser in future transactions or requests. Since the Web's protocol has no way to remember requests, cookies read and record a userÕs browser type and IP address
--Information (in this case URLs, Web addresses) created by a Web server and stored on a user's computer. This information lets Web sites the user visits to keep of a user's browsing pattterns and preferences.
Now here's the part that is seriously disturbing to most anyone who is interested in natural health & healing (and that use the Internet to gather information from various websites). As anybody that read's Joels posts knows (also anybody familiar with the world of natural health and healing, whether they read Joel's posts or not): ALL people that sell products or attempt to heal people using natural means are subject to inquiry, investigation, arrest, harrassment and/or lawsuits from the FDA /Government. This has been true for decades; it even more true now. Dr. Christopher, Dr. Kelly, Dr. Schulze and many others have been arrested and imprisoned; had their places of businesses, clinics and personal records (and products) raided; patient records & products destroyed, and all sorts of manner of harrassment. I know of TWO health food store owners and one pharmacy that all suffered the same. AND THAT WAS BEFORE THE INTERNET and the government's ability to "request" information from any source that gathers it and stores it.
In order to deliver the information contained in a tracking cookie to Joel (like the information that is placed on my computer for tracking me), Homestead.com HAS to store the information somewhere. And that means that the FDA/government can easily gain access to it.
If you're not familiar with The Codex Alimentarius, it is a "world law" (of sorts) that when/if passed and implemented will totally prevent the sale or purchase of nutritional supplements of all kinds (vitamins, tonics, tinctures, superfoods, you name it). You will have to have an MD's prescription to be able to obtain ANYTHING of that sort...and you'll only be able to obtain it in the quantity that is recommended in the Codex. The Codex "law" is already in place in some European countries (as we all can see by the number of posts from European folks that cannot legally buy healing products and import them into their country). This "law" will most likely be "passed" in 2008. After that time, possessing, sharing, giving, or selling herbal supplements or vitamins WILL BE ILLEGAL! http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/aboutcodex/summary.shtml Now here's my point....at that time (or at anytime before that!) , the government WILL be actively searching for those that have, use, recommend, or sell these type of products (they do already) -- AND ALL THOSE TRACKING COOKIES THAT HAVE ALL OF OUR IP ADDRESSES WILL BE EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY THE GOVERNMENT. Websites and web owners that allow tracking cookies to be implanted to gather information about the unsuspecting people that have surfed their website, will be handing that information over to the FDA/government left & right (whether they WANT to or not!).
I was SURE that Joel was unaware his website was placing tracking cookies onto the computer of each & every innocent/unsuspecting visitor to his website. From his responses, it seems more than obvious that he doesn't care and has no intention of stopping this unneccesary and potentially freedom-damaging, privacy compromising gathering of personal information. (Which is EXTREMELY "out of character" for Joel, who claims to be very disturbed about "Big Brother" and instrusion of our right to privacy & choice). To turn off the "cookie setting" would take only a few minutes of his time, but apparently he has some stealth reason to gather the personal information of each visitor to his websites...otherwise (obviously) he would turn it off immediately.
I will not be addressing this issue further (unless someone tells a blatant lie that could damage other people and their safety).
Below is the tracking cookie Joel placed on my computer; it is FAR more than a simple cookie. (I have blocked out my IP address with ****'s. This tracking cookie would not 'paste' in it's orginial format of eight lines with assorted symbols that are in it).