Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Hate Cookies

No, no, not the kind you eat. The kind that web sites try to put on your computer to track you. I have my Internet browser set to prompt me to review all cookies that a web site may try to add. After having it set this way for a few years now, I’m still surprised at the number of cookies web sites want me to accept.

Cookies are not all bad. Some will help a web site to remember your log in information or your viewing preferences so you don’t have to set them every time. But a lot will track how often you visit, which pages you visit, etc. Cookies really don’t do anything except store bits of information (like your user name, your user preferences, the pages you viewed or the items you clicked) to relay back to the web site. They don’t carry viruses or malicious programs. They sound harmless, don’t they?

My opinion is that in many cases they ARE harmless, but in some cases, your cookie can help a company track you across various web sites that you visit, and target you with ads across those sites. And if you don’t know the privacy policy of the web site you’ve just allowed to put a cookie on your computer, you don’t really know what they are doing with that information.

So for me, while having my browser’s privacy policy set to prompt me to review my cookies may initially seem annoying, it has allowed me to block cookies for companies like Double Click, who can use that information to track movements to many places on the Internet. And who knows how companies will use cookies in the future?

There are some web sites that mandate you must accept their cookie in order to use the site. If you really want to use the site or feel comfortable about them, go ahead and accept the cookie. If the web site is questionable, check it out first, or just block it.

So take the time to be informed about what companies are putting cookies on your computer. It’s worth the time

No comments: