Tracking Cookies: How many Does Your Computer Have?

WWW URL and ManA recent analysis by Keynote Systems, and reported by NETWORKWORLD.com, “showed that 86% of the sites [studied] place one or more Internet third-party tracking cookies on their visitors [computers].” The article also states “Keynote found that nearly all the websites in the “travel & hospitality” and “news & media” categories have third-party tracking. The “news & media” sites are said to “expose site visitors to an average 14 unique third-party tracking companies during the course of a typical visit.” “

Cookies being placed on your computer by visited websites is not a new thing, in fact it’s a common occurrence. Most of them are helpful in that they allow the visited website to store information that will save us time in the future such as registration and purchase information. Tracking cookies are another story.

Tracking cookies and especially third-party tracking cookies are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals’ browsing histories — a major privacy concern that has prompted European and US law makers to take action.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone “collecting” information about the sites I frequent; no matter how boring the list might be! It’s just a violation of my privacy; like someone at each “brick and mortar” store I visit calling a company to report that I’d been there and what I bought…outrageous!

After reading the NETWORKWORLD.com article, Study: 86% of top websites expose visitors to third-party tracking cookies, I started doing some checking around myself. NETWORKWORLD.net tried to place 16 tracking cookies on my computer while I was reading the article! They had names like: Adhere, AMP Platform, Brightcove, Chart Beat, Demandbase, Disqus, Dynamic Logic, Eloqua, Facebook Connect, Google +1, Google Analytics, Google Custom Search Engine, NetRatings Site Census, Omniture, Scorecard Research Beacon, and ShareThis. Some of which are familiar names, most are not. Then I looked at my blog and found 7 tracking cookies: Facebook Social Graph, Gravity Insights, KissMetrics, Quantcast, Scorecard Research Beacon, Twitter Button, and WordPress Stats. These were not put there by me, possibly WordPress.com, but not by me!

So, what do we do about unwanted tracking cookies that end up on our computers? You can get control of them with software that helps you manage which tracking cookies you want on your computer and which ones you want to block. One such software I’ve used is Ghostery. Ghostery supplied me with the above lists of tracking cookies just by visiting the subject websites. It’s free and does a great job of letting you know what a website is putting on your computer and allowing you some control over them. It runs on several different Web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and recently came out with an Internet Explorer version. So you should be able to find a version for your browser. Try it out and see how you like it. The next thing I would do is run a good cleaner software to clean off all the cookies  already on your computer.

As always, I appreciate your comments on this subject…so please do. And be careful out there…it’s extremely dangerous these days.

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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.

Best regards,

Paul

lubicp(at)yahoo.com

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7 Comments

Filed under Internet, Internet Security, software

7 responses to “Tracking Cookies: How many Does Your Computer Have?

  1. Tracking cookies are like the salesmen on 3rd world country touristic markets.
    If they catch you glancing at their merchandise they will chase you down the street trying to sell you that particular item, telling you “You good price pay! Wife like!”

    So, I wrote an article about that 🙂 http://www.mennobieringa.nl/general/a-word-on-tracking-cookies-and-privacy/

    • Menno,
      Thanks for your comment, what a great analogy; third world country tourist salesmen. I like it. I also read your article and enjoyed it too. Keep up the good work, and stop by my blog again soon.
      Best,
      Paul

      • Thanks Paul, I know there’s more to tracking cookies, but this particular usage disturbs me the most. It really is equally annoying as visiting some market in Istanbul 🙂

  2. Alex Jones

    People should set the default on their internet browser to clear cache and cookies every time they close their browser.

  3. If you use Facebook like buttons ( like the ones bellow your post), then you are exposing visitors to Facebook tracking cookies. This is the same with other social networks.
    Overall, Tracking cookies on itself are harmless as long as they have sane expiration limits. If some of the tracking cookies are of concern for you, I recommend using Do not track plugin too.

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