April 14, 2007

The Sitemeter Controversy

Someone sent me a warning about Sitemeter (a sophisticated hit counter) because they have been using a new cookie which people assume is spyware. The cookie shows up as specificclick and here's what USA Today said about specificclick two years ago:

If you travel to a lot of sites served by DoubleClick (or a similar company — I see cookies from specificclick.net and realcastmedia.com on my machine right now), your surfing habits can be tracked. In fact, they are. These companies want to serve you ads you might be interested in, and they want to build up a profile of who's going where. Is that spyware? In a sense, perhaps. But it's just a tracking number on your computer. It doesn't do anything; it's not "ware."

Yet bloggers are in a panic about Sitemeter. People don't like finding new cookies on their computers (when they bother to look). I found a fairly thorough discussion ofthe Sitemeter controversy at Eric Odom's blog. He contacted Sitemeter and got this explanation:

The cookie you are seeing is from a trusted partner who we are working with to provide more intelligence to you about your visitors. In the past few days we’ve begun beta testing this cookie.

Over the next few months we will be rolling out enhancements to our service that will offer you more information about your users like their other content interests and demographics ...

...If you would rather not participate in this process we can offer you a couple options -

1 - If you replace your current Java code with the standard HTML Sitemeter code the cookie will no longer be issued.
2 - We can move you to a new server that will be restricted from the cookie process.

Personally I don't see anything to panic over. However, Sitemeter owes it to their subscribers to address the concerns on the Sitemeter homepage. Privacy issues are a hot issue.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Linja, I'm from GoStats. If you are looking for a great alternative for stats, you are welcome to try us out.


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