Internet privacy has become one of the major concerns with the development of the modern Internet technologies. Cookies take one of the key roles among the Internet privacy issue. Cookie is a text message that is stored on the user’s hard drive (Parsons & Oja.) They can track users’ surfing habits and save them in the form of a profile into a database. First-party cookie allows visitors to login automatically without retyping the username and password. Third-party cookies are created by advertising networks for commercial purposes (Gralla 140.) Cookies serve a variety of purposes to the website creators and even to the website visitors. For example, if the users have accepted a Cookie, the unique code is saved on the hard disk. The advantage is that when the users revisit the site, they will not be asked to supply the same information repeatedly. Furthermore, they may even be allowed to enter the restricted areas of the website.
Internet user can access and collect information from Web sites, but Web sites can also collect information about their users without their knowledge. Therefore, it is important for the Internet user to know how the cookies work. Everyone can set Internet privacy options to protect personal identity from unauthorized access. Lots of browsers have tools to control how Web site providers track data on users’ browsing activities. Internet users may do not want to leave their search history if they work on a public computer. For this purpose, they can use the Incognito mode in Google Chrome and the InPrivate Browsing feature in Internet Explorer (Granneman164.) These tools keep the browser from storing cookies.
The simplest way to raise the privacy level is to control the Cookies that have been sent to the user. A person can see a list of Cookies stored on the computer using the Internet Options dialog (Moore 233.) Moreover, the Internet users can block cookies. The Internet Explorer provides six levels of privacy settings from accepting all to blocking all Cookies. However, the blocking can lead to losing some benefits on certain Web sites. When the users reject a Cookie, some sites may not properly function. Thus, the wiser way of dealing with this tool is to accept it and delete after finishing surfing. If the users decide to block cookies, they should particularly block third-party cookies.
Cookies are a controversial issue, because many Internet users do not want to have anything on their computers that could trace their Internet session history. They believe this tool is an intrusion and prefer to block cookies at all costs. The Internet technologies develop at a fast pace. All things eventually become obsolete since the humanity always makes the breakthroughs. Cookies as the programming accessibilities will also be substituted by more advanced and sophisticated technology in the future.
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- Granneman, S. Mac OS X Snow Leopard for Power Users. New York: Springer. 2010.
- Moore, R. Cybercrime: Investigating High-Technology Computer Crime (2nd ed.) New York: Routledge. 2011.
- Parsons, J. & Oja D. Computer Concepts. Massachusetts: Cengage Learning., 2013.