Cookies And Internet Privacy Cookies and Internet Privacy March 14, 1999 What is a Cookie? “Netscape’s Client Side State definition: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. The addition of a simple, persistent, client-side state significantly extends the capabilities of Web-based client/server applications.”Kington, Andy, Andy’s HTTP Cookie Notes, Available from http://www.illuminatus.com/cookie pages/ [modified 6 June 1997, cited 14 March, 1999] In English, this means that webservers can create web pages that will customize from user to user. By saving these preferences on your computer, the web page can reload appearing to your chosen options. This is accomplished by retrieving the cookie, through your browser, when you access the web page. Where cookies and privacy clash The problem with privacy begins with the cookie revealing personal information that you do not wish to be available. “Your browser is probably revealing more than you might want: which computer you are coming from, what software and hardware you are using, details of the link you clicked on, and possibly even your email address.” Junkbusters, How Web Servers’ Cookies Threaten Your Privacy, [Online], Available from http://www.junkbusters.com/ht/en/cookies.html, [written 11 December, 1998, cited 14 March, 1999] By receiving this information, the webservers could sell it as part of an advertising database resulting in both electronic and paper junk mail. Legislative action has been enacted to curtail the illegal use of personal information.
The WWW offers a wide variety of communication, information and interaction. Cookies provide for necessary customization. But the Internet is not outside the law. Existing regulations, targeted at protecting personal information, limit the use and application of cookies. Current cookie usage violates such norms.
“You can prevent any cookies from being sent to your system using the browser options. In Internet Explorer 4.0, choose the View, Internet Options command, click the Advanced tab and click the Disable All Cookie Use option. In Netscape 4.0, choose the Edit, Options command, click on Advanced and click the Disable Cookies option. After that, no cookies will be stored on your system. You will need to turn cookies back on if you want to use any online services that require them.
You can also choose the option to prompt you before accepting a cookie, but at many sites you will be continually closing the warning dialog box.’ http://www.ciac.org/, INFORMATION BULLETIN I-034: Internet Cookies, [html], [12 March, 1998, cited 14 March 14, 1999], Available from http://www.ciac.org/ciac/bulletins/i-034.shtml This can become tedious with the number of sites using cookies today. Another option is to download a cookie management program from any one of the shareware sites on the Internet. Most search engines have links to a shareware site My third option is to simply limit which sites you choose to view, only go to sites you know are safe. Computers and Internet.