Cookies may sound good when they're filled with chocolate chips, but when cookies are used to track your online activity, they can result in behavioural tracking (OIPC) that advertisers use to target products to you.
You may be okay with this when it leads you to your next great shoe sale, but if you use a shared computer and search for something more private, the next person to browse the web may get bombarded with ads for the next best fungus cream – something you didn't want them to know.
A silly example, but if you use the internet for activities that require more personal information – such as online banking or shopping – cookies can save and remember your account number, credit card number, mailing address, phone number and more.
To learn more about cookies watch this video.
Cookies can create privacy challenges, but there are steps that you can do to try to control your personal behaviour tracking when you are on the internet. See Cookies: Following the Crumbs.(OIPC).
Google Chrome internet browser now allows you to use ‘incognito’ access to webpages. Pages that you view in incognito tabs won’t stick around in your browser’s history, cookie store or search history after you’ve closed all of your incognito tabs. It won't stop other sources from seeing your browsing activity, including:
- Your internet service provider
- Your employer (if you're using a work computer)
- The websites you visit themselves
Tip: Delete your cookies! Especially if you use a shared computer or if you are doing activities that require your personal information. This may be more difficult than it sounds – third-party cookies, flash cookies, and super cookies all exist and are hard to find and remove. However, you can still set settings on your browser to clear cookies after use. Visit the settings on your internet browser to see what it does with cookies.
Resources and References
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. “Every Move You Make…Advertisers are tracking your online behaviour”.October 2011
Ibid. Cookies – Following the crumbs. May 2011
Wall Street Journal. How Advertisers Use Internet Cookies to Track You. July 2010
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