Google's official response? The Journal overstated its case, its cookies do not collect personal information or track the locations of iPhone users, and we didn't realize exactly how well we managed to circumvent Safari's restrictions. Are we good, or what?
.... Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as "Like" buttons. Last year, we began using this functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari who had opted to see personalized ads and other content--such as the ability to "+1" things that interest them....
However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn't anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers. It's important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.
Federated Media's John Battelle points out that Apple isn't an innocent player in this game, and its browser settings aren't the norm for the Web. Other browsers also let you block third-party cookies, but it's not the default setting.
To which I say, so what? Enhanced privacy should be the norm for the Web. If enhanced privacy settings break the way you want people to interact with your ads, maybe you should redesign your ads.
And if targeted ads are so much better for us, as the advertising and tracking industry desperately wants us to believe, wouldn't we naturally want to choose them over regular old nontargeted ads? Surely if targeting is necessary for the continued survival of the "free" Web, wouldn't Joe and Jane Internet elect to opt in?
It's the same reason people channel surf when commercials come on TV. Don't want us to surf past the ads? Make better commercials. Want us to allow third-party tracking cookies? Give us an incentive for letting you track us, besides delivering "more interesting" ads.
User clickstream data is clearly worth billions to the complex Web of companies involved in serving Internet ads. But it's also worth something to us, Joe and Jane Internet. Why should we hand ours over for free?
Do Google's secret cookies tick you off? Vent your spleen below or give me an earful directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "Google bites into Apple, crams down cookies," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.