The cookie debates, debacles, and disasters are all over the place. Especially since the hype spread by a number of agencies attempting to get rid of tracking cookies, which are essentially computer monitoring and cell phone tracking devices they claim, from our internet lives. Multinational corporations and large scale advertising agencies use these cookies to collect data regarding our personal lives in order to assess our behavior and then use that knowledge in turn to influence it. This may sound like an issue blown out of proportion but when one comes to consider the amount of privacy which is violated in getting this information, the issue suddenly becomes more alarming.
What are Tracking Cookies
So what are tracking cookies and more importantly, what are they all about? Well essentially they are text files which are stored via internet on your PC from different websites. These files keep track of which sites you log into, your username, your browsing preferences, the specific search words you enter into search bars along with other such details. Now on their own they are harmless and incapable of leashing any virus or anything onto your system. Even being used by malware, they cannot execute anything. What they can do is report your information to ad agencies which then attempt to assess your personality and sell you products. So the function of cookies is to actually make it easier for you to surf the web and access most used sites without hassle. So if you choose to keep them around, worry not, your system will not burst into flames.
How to Avoid Tracking Cookies
But if you don’t, there are many ways, that until the government or some authority or the other takes a step to stop and outlaw this practice, you can continue your cyber experiences both via computer and phone without having that nagging fear at the back of your head that you are an unknowing victim of computer monitoring, portable device tracking, or maybe both. Here are some of the things you should be versed with to stop the growing menace:
- Update your browser often. Most people who use out dated browsers miss out on the scores of new privacy features which can help them from receiving third party cookies without their consent. Whatever browser you use, update it and then activate the ‘block’ options for third party cookies. If you still feel weary, you can also opt for ‘private’ browsing, which blocks all cookies, regardless whether they are the tracking kind or the actual useful ones. If you choose to allow cookies then you should clear internet browser cache files often. Some software programs will clean out all the junk files, detect Malware, delete unused registry keys, Automatic Driver updates, and more. Not everyone is comfortable clearing history or deleting temporary files so buying software is the answer for some. You can get a free scan for your computer to see how it works before you buy.
- Start monitoring flash cookies. Flash cookies are indeed important since using Flash files a user gets to view videos and other graphic content. But some sites exploit these flash files and use them to track your online activities. In order to sort the mess out, you can go to the official Adobe website and delete flash cookies from there. You can also further specify that you no longer want any third party flash cookies to prevent this sort of tracking in the future.
- Opt for Do Not Track. DNT is a program for your internet browser which sends out headers once connected to the internet that clarify that the user does not want any forms of cookies on their system. At the moment it is up to the recipients of the Do Not Track requests whether they wish to honor it or not. Nonetheless, major internet giants are coming around and acknowledging DNT such as Twitter. Google Chrome is said to adopt DNT sometime later this year so those who don’t want to have to switch browsers (in other words leave Chrome), just be a bit more patient.
- Get privacy Plug-ins or Ad-ons which will help you maintain some semblance of privacy and in turn monitor the tools others use to track and monitor you! Well some of them at least. Others can monitor hidden trackers and some simply schedule cookie deletion on a weekly or monthly basis so you won’t need to. These are convenient once installed, but warning, getting them hooked up with your browser may be a bit tricky.
Being watched and assessed online is not something anyone would like. You may brush it off by saying something like, “well, they’re just ad agencies” but the reality is once you disregard online surveillance as something casual, and the chances are the ones doing it are going to take further liberties. That is something you can’t brush off.