Cookies were invented in 1994 by a 24-year-old programmer
named Lou Montulli, who
also claims to have invented the <> tag. A cookie
is a small data file that certain web sites write to your hard drive when you
visit them. A cookie is a simple piece of text. It is not a program
or a plug-in. It cannot be used as a virus, and it cannot access your hard
drive or read cookie files created by other sites, although that technology is
probably under development. A cookie file can contain information such as
a user ID that a web site uses to track the pages you visit, but the only personal
information a cookie can contain is information which you supply yourself.|
Visitors to any web site (other than this one, of course) should be aware that two general
levels of information about their visit can be retained. The first level
comprises statistical information - about all visitors - collected on an aggregate
basis, and the second is information about a specific visitor who knowingly
chooses to provide that information.
The statistical information provides the web site manager with general (not
individually specific) information about the number of people who visit his or her web
site, the number of people who return to the site, the pages that they visit, where
they were before they came to the current web page, and the last page they saw
before they exited. The web site manager may also collect certain information
such as the type of browser being used (e.g., Netscape, Internet Explorer,
Mozilla, Opera), the type of operating system being used, (e.g., Windows 98 or
Mac OS) and the domain name of your internet service provider (e.g., America
Online, Southwestern Bell).
This information helps the well-informed web site manager monitor traffic on his or her
web site in order to analyze site usage and manage the site's content and capacity. It
also shows which parts of the site are most popular, and generally to assess user
behavior and characteristics in order to measure interest in and use of the various
areas of the site. This helps facilitate improvements in the design and content
of the web site and enables the manager to personalize your internet experience.
Lots of information about cookies from a company that uses them.
The Unofficial Cookie FAQ by David Whalen.
Cookies and Privacy FAQ
The Cookie Concept
Privacy Concerns: More than just cookies.
What's In Your Cookie Jar?
Got Spam: Learn what it is, how it works and what you can do to stop it.
EPIC's Cookie page.
About Cookies on Microsoft.com.
Cookies and Advertising: With the increasing commercial applications of
the Internet, it was probably inevitable that cookies would quickly be utilized for advertising purposes. Since cookies can be matched to
the profile of a user's interests and browsing habits, they are a natural tool for the "targeting" of advertisements to individual users.
There are several types of cookies, and you can choose whether to allow some, none, or all of them to be saved on your
computer. If you do not allow cookies at all, you may not be able to view some Web sites or take advantage of
Cookie-Based Counting Overstates Size of Web
Site Audiences. Cookies are often used by web servers to identify users and for authenticating,
tracking and maintaining specific information about users. First-party cookies are those left on a
computer by a Web site that has been visited, while third-party cookies are those left by a domain different
than the site being visited, such as an advertising server that has just delivered an ad to a computer, or
certain third-party tools used to measure site traffic.
The definition of a cookie: The main
purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages for them. When you enter
a Web site using cookies, you may be asked to fill out a form providing such information as your name and
interests. This information is packaged into a cookie and sent to your Web browser which stores it
for later use.
Persistent Client State HTTP
Cookies. Cookies are a general mechanism which server side connections (such as CGI scripts) can
use to both store and retrieve information on the client side of the connection.
You Deleted Your
Cookies? Think Again. More than half of the internet's top websites use a little known
capability of Adobe's Flash plugin to track users and store information about them, but only four of them
mention the so-called Flash Cookies in their privacy policies, UC Berkeley researchers reported Monday.
Unlike traditional browser cookies, Flash cookies are relatively unknown to web users, and they are not
controlled through the cookie privacy controls in a browser. That means even if a user thinks they
have cleared their computer of tracking objects, they most likely have not.
Are TSA's Tracking Cookies Legal?
The Transportation Security Agency's website is not only hosting a site that looks like a phishing attack designed
to steal personal information from citizens, it's also using cookies on its website — a practice
that the government frowns on. The main TSA site sets two cookies — both of which expire
in 2017. One of the cookies is set to tsa.gov, while the other is served from a web analytics company
Ad Firm Sued for Allegedly
Re-Creating Deleted Cookies. Specificmedia, one of the net's largest ad-serving and tracking
companies, has been hit with a federal lawsuit accusing the company of violating computer intrusion laws by
secretly re-creating cookies deleted by users.
On the Web, Children
Face Intensive Tracking. A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that
popular children's websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites
aimed at adults. The Journal examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what
tracking tools they installed on a test computer. As a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons"
and other pieces of tracking technology.
Code That Tracks Users' Browsing Prompts
Lawsuits. Sandra Person Burns is among those taking legal action against companies that track
computer users' activity on the Internet. Ms. Person Burns, 67, a retired health care executive who lives
in Jackson, Miss., said she is wary of online shopping: "Instead of going to Amazon, I'm going to the
Über-zombie cookies give
us the fear. Privacy activists got hot under the collar about the use of flash cookies to
respawn traditional website cookies but an even more persistent type of cookie that's almost impossible
to kill off may lie just around the corner.
cookies' won't die: Microsoft admits use. One year ago this week, I wrote about zombie cookies,
describing how Disney, MySpace, and NBC Universal had just been sued for using zombie cookies to track people
even if they have gone to great lengths to disable, block, or delete cookies. Seven months ago, I
mentioned that Adobe had taken up the pitchfork and vowed to make Flash zombie cookies a thing of the past.
So it's pretty shocking that Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford researcher, caught Microsoft using both a cache-based
zombie cookie and a more advanced type of persistent "supercookie" to track folks even if they blocked or
deleted browser cookies.
Your computer is watching you.
Have you ever had the feeling your computer is watching you? That somehow it knows what you were looking at yesterday, or last year? And that rather than
being your technological 'friend' it behaves more like a slick second-hand car salesman? [...] It is all because of something on your computer called a 'cookie'.
The origins of their name are unclear, but cookies are vital to the running of the internet.
The Editor says...
No, cookies are not vital to the operation of the internet. Cookies are vital to the commecialization of the internet.