Stopping Spyware Today, Cookies Tomorrow

By John Dvorak  |  Posted 2004-10-12 Print this article Print

Opinion: We need to go beyond just outlawing spyware—and cookies should be the next form of intrusion in legislators' sights.

Welcome to the "Internet Spyware Prevention Act." Just passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, this proposed federal law eventually will give the Justice Department the initiative to stop companies that install spyware. Its aimed at tricksters who try to scam personal details from the hapless user, but because these programs are so annoying in all of their forms, Im convinced that everyone using spyware will be subject to investigation. Good! Read more here about the anti-spyware bill. And so much for the industry monitoring itself. I have to assume that more than a few people in government finally got fed up and figured that there ought to be a law. This is just the beginning. Its about time, since the tech industry obviously cannot police itself. Times up on that pipe dream.
In fact, there wouldnt be spyware in the first place—or phishing or any other scam—if software were written well enough to keep such things from working.

But lets go further and ban cookies, too. Cookies are those small files that Web sites store on your computer for their convenience. I never even liked the idea of cookies. Why should some Web site be storing its data on my machine? While a cookie is kind of handy when you want to store a password, this can be done other ways without the alien Web site looking at my files. Whose idea was this, anyway? Cookies are like those marks that hobos used to make on picket fences during the depression in the 1930s. They were marks to tell other hobos who the rubes were. A cookie is a marker telling Web sites that Im a sucker. To read the full story on, click here.

John C. Dvorak is a contributing editor of PC Magazine, for which he has been writing two columns, including the popular Inside Track, since 1986. Dvorak has won eight national awards from the Computer Press Association, including Best Columnist and Best Column. Dvorak's work appears in several magazines and newspapers, including Boardwatch, Computer Shopper, and MicroTimes. He is the author of several books on computing including the popular Dvorak's Guide to Telecommunications. His radio show, 'Real Computing,' can be heard on National Public Radio. He is also the host of TechTV's 'Silicon Spin.'

For more on John C. Dvorak, go to


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