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Internet Cookies Essay, Research Paper

Internet Cookies

Most Experienced Web visitors and even new ones know about cookies these days. Cookies are small data files that are being put on your hard drive by Web sites when you visit them. They do this for many different reasons. One of them is to identify you as a distinctive visitor by identifying your Web browser software. When your return to the Web site that has stored a cookie, it will search your computer for those cookies, and they will know what you were doing in the past. It may update your cookie. This way the site can customize its contents depending on previous activities. It will also allow the site to provide customized news, weather, sports information, and many other things based on stated interests. In theory, a cookie only transmits information back to the Web site that put it there and can’t be accessed by other parties. But some Internet advertising companies had crossed the limits of using their own cookies. These companies use cookies to create highly sophisticated profiles of online visitors, most of the time without visitors’ knowledge and usually without their consent


Whenever I go to any site on the Web and I see an advertisement, I DoubleClick on it in order to view it. DoubleClick has taken the first step in building a profile on my surfing habits. From this point on, until I change browser, buy a new computer, or delete my cookie files, DoubleClick can track my browser’s activity across all sites. DoubleClick controls sixty percent of the banner ad market. This profiling powerhouse collects data about where I go and what I do on line. DoubleClick rents or sells this data to other companies, allowing them to broadcast advertising e-mails to recipients whoses urfing habits fit a desired profile. DoubleClick associates these files through cookies obtained on my hard drive. By sending out junk e-mail with graphics, advertisers can match e-mail addresses with previously issued cookies. Privacy advocates contend that DoubleClick’s use of cookies is an invasion of privacy and could lead to misuse of the information.

Consumer Privacy and Cookies

Under the “Options” or “Preferences “ menus, most current Web browsers can be set to reject cookies or alert surfers when one is being sent, but this may prevent you from accessing some sites at all. In March 1998, the U.S Department of Energy’s Computer Incident Advisory Capability released a study on cookies, in which it stated that, “The vulnerability of systems to damage or snooping using Web browser cookies is essentially nonexistent.” Advertisers love online profiling, it enables them for an opportunity to make people interested in their products or services. Many consumers agree if Web banner ads are a fact of life, then why not make them as relevant to their needs as possible, but the argument of a different perspective is that people should at least know about it. Online profiling companies say that cookies alone do not provide personally identifiable information, such as name and e-mail address, but just because its not tied with you name, its tied with your identity.

What could be more personal than information about our buying habits, our interests, and ourselves? Many consumers like the targeted marketing and special offers that come with online profiling, others find it invasive, even frightening. Either way, we should make the decision of whether to share the data or not.

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