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Essay On Internet Privacy Cookies And Privacy On The Internet

1398 words - 6 pages

Cookies: Privacy on the Internet?

   Today, many web sites on the internet can use "cookies" to keep track of passwords and usernames and track the sites a particular user visits ( But, the use of cookies to track user's browsing habits is becoming a concern of many internet users. These concerned people are beginning to think of cookies as an invasion of privacy. Companies with web sites can use cookies to track what sites you visit frequently and then select specific ad banners to send to you on the web while surfing ( Electronic Frontier Foundation's program director, Stanton McCandlish points out, "The potential problem is that companies without a sense of ethics could be doing [the] same thing and selling addresses to offline marketers" ( The government should realize the hazards of internet cookies and enforce a ban on their use.


For those not familiar with the internet type of cookie, provides the definition of a cookie and some of the ways they are used. The site states, "a 'cookie' is a small piece of information sent by a web server to store on a web browser so it can later be read back from that browser." When you visit a cookie-using site on the web, that site will save a small text file in your browser's folder or directory. This file will tell them who you are if you ever visit their site again. The site goes on to explain in more detail the different areas where a cookie can be used. The various tasks that can be performed by a cookie listed include online ordering, targeted marketing, user ID's, and site personalization. It is true that there are some beneficial uses of cookies. For example, personalizing a certain site for what you would like to see every time you pull up that page. However, there are many more ways that cookies could be used unethically.


There have not been any specific reports of "cookie fraud" on the internet, but there are certainly many opportunities for it. As soon as someone attempts to keep records or use tracking devices on other people, privacy rights come up. Marketing firms on the internet use cookies to collect data about users' preferences to choose what internet advertisements should be used on the websites a particular user will pull up. For example, if somebody pulls up a site that gets its advertisement banners from one of these marketing firms, this "third party server" then requests that a cookie be set on the user's hard drive. This, in turn, places an advertisement banner on the original page that is specific to the viewer's interests and tastes. The server's goal would be to use targeted ads to generate better return and to increase the variety of banners a user would see. The user would not see many banners over and over that are of no interest to them. This may be a benefit to some people, but for others it is seen as an invasion of privacy that they have no control over...

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