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« Time Running Out? | Main | Too Prudish? »

January 19, 2007

Tracked to My Lair

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I suppose this is old news to some of you.

And should have been to me as well; alas, I pay only passing attention to most news items related to Internet-related technology.

But it came as a surprise when I was scrolling the Instapundit site and noticed something oddly familiar in the advertising & links column at the right of the page.

It was an advertisement showing five or so thumbnail covers of books by and about artist James McNeill Whistler.


Well, the last time I accessed Amazon's site was a few days ago to find a link to put in my recent post about a Whistler book that I'd just finished reading.

This is no coincidence, thinks I, so I clicked on a privacy statement link and up popped an explanation from Amazon telling me that, yes, their computer got into my cookie jar but, no, it was all harmless.

I just went back to Instapundit and the same PajamasMedia panel is showing other ads (with no special relationship to my surfing practices), so it's some sort of ad-rotation that sometimes comes up snake-eyes in my personal-space zone.

Aha!! I found it again; click here if you're curious about the disclaimer.

True, I'm a big Instapundit fan. Moreover, I been an Amazon customer for years. And there's nothing intrinsically wrong with informing me about stuff I might be interested in buying -- Lord knows I get a lot of invited e-mails dealing with that.

Capitalist tool that I am, I'm nevertheless not happy about my friends making this kind of use of my MacBook's hard drive. (Yes, I know cookie checking is necessary for operation of the Internet.)

I am over-reacting?



posted by Donald at January 19, 2007


You're not over-reacting at all. I noticed a site yesterday that did that to me, too, and it made me grumble.

I've always hated Amazon's auto-suggestion thingy because it's never been accurate. Now I get to hate it across the web, apparently.

Posted by: yahmdallah on January 19, 2007 4:17 PM

Doesn't bother me in the bit. I think Amazon's just doing a bit more publicly what most retailers are doing, uhmmm, nefariously. All that charge card info and gifting info that's given out (way too!!!) freely by folks, especially around the holidays is being chewed up, grounded up, and spit out by most retailers with any minimal software power. Even the local artsy stores where we shop have tailored their mailings specifically to the brand of clothes or the potter that we've bought before.

Now, being Slavic and therefore naturally paranoid, what worries me is the stuff Amazon is doing behind the scenes and is not making public, as yet. All in all, though, I've been very happy with my dealings with Amazon in the last 4 years, so my annoyance with them is minimal.

Posted by: DarkoV on January 20, 2007 9:50 AM

Hi Donald, can't read the cookie which identifies you. That is part of the security of cookies. They are tied to the site which creates them.

Although you are on, the ad from Amazon that you see is coming directly from

Amazon can't read the rest of your hard drive, either, but it sounds like you browsed their site for Whistler books while you were logged in previously.

They know you're interested in Whistler books now but you can tell them to forget that information at any time as far as I know - it's somewhere in your account options.


Posted by: Peter Reavy on January 29, 2007 9:44 AM

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