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Privacy on the Web

Security, privacy, cookies, browser information, its' all in the news and a lot of people are making noise about what you tell the web site you're visiting, and for good reason. Using methods that are available to most site administrators, demographic and psychological data about visitors can be ascertained. While there are many methods of doing this, one that has received attention recently is the use of "cookies."

One of the great advantages (and disadvantages) of the web is that it is not a "stated" environment. When you are on the World Wide Web and request a page, the hosts (your computer and my computer) have a two-way conversation (you download a page), and then the connection is dropped. This significantly decreases the amount of traffic on the web. To offset this developers use a device called a cookie; a small file written on your hard drive so your computer can tell my computer where we were the last time we talked.

The problem is that these cookies can contain a lot of information. Where you have been, how long you stayed, even what you ordered. Match this up with data in your credit file (yes, that can be done in an instant) and its not hard to find out how much money you make, what kind of cars you own and what credit card you haven't used recently. Now, and this is only hypothetical, let's say you drive a Mercury Marquis that's 4 years old. A Lincoln/Mercury dealer could target a "buy a new Marquis" or a "stop by for your 48,000 mile checkup" in banner ads on certain sites that you visit.

Now you have an idea of the problem. While the Mercury dealer is just doing what most businessmen would like to do, information that is extremely personal can be revealed to any webmaster. So we thought you would like to know where "Welcome to North Georgia" collects information, and how we use it.

Welcome to North Georgia does not use cookies, and we do not collect any demographic or psychological information. We do collect information that permits us to determine popular pages. Lets take some of the mystery out of the process and show you what is readily available information. This is what we collect for each requested page and picture on that page:

pmwill2-4.csrlink.net - - [08/Jun/1997:00:16:02 -0400] "GET /travel/bgtrail.html HTTP/1.0" 200 9286

This means that on June 8, 1997 at 12:04am, someone from the domain csrlink.net requested The Blue and Gray Trail. The request was successful(the 200 tells us that) and we delivered 9286 bytes of information. When the computers communicated they spoke "HTTP/1.0".

If you visit from a search engine, we capture what you searched for when you visited. We also capture the terms you use when searching this site. We find out what interests people so that we can better serve our customers.

We hope this helps you understand some of the technical aspects of the issue. As to the social aspects, we will leave it for you to decide.

 


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