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Digital Cookies

2023 OCT 3

Preliminary   > Science and Technology   >   IT & Computers   >   Fundamental rights

Why in news?

  • As the ever-evolving digital landscape continues to reshape online experiences, cookies emerge as dual agents, serving as indispensable facilitators of personalization and convenience, yet concurrently posing significant challenges in the domains of user privacy and data security.

About Cookies

  • Website cookies are small text files that websites store on your device (computer, smartphone, tablet) when you visit them. These cookies serve various purposes and are used by websites for different functions.

Functions of Cookies

  • Authentication: Cookies can be used to remember your login credentials. This means you don’t have to enter your username and password every time you visit a site.
  • Session Management: They help manage user sessions. Cookies store session IDs, allowing websites to recognize you as the same user as you navigate through different pages.
  • Personalization: Websites use cookies to remember your preferences. For example, they can remember your language choice or the region you selected.
  • Shopping Carts: On e-commerce websites, cookies store the items you’ve added to your shopping cart, so they’re still there when you return to the site.
  • Tracking: Some cookies are used for tracking user behavior. This can be for analytics, advertising, or site optimization. For example, they help website owners understand which pages popular or which products users are are interested in.
  • Advertising: Advertisers use cookies to track your browsing habits and show you targeted ads. This is often why you see ads for products you’ve recently searched for.
  • Security: Cookies can enhance website security. They can be used for authentication, preventing unauthorized access to your account.
  • Third-party Cookies: These are often used by third-party services integrated into websites, like social media buttons or embedded videos. They can track your behavior across different websites.

Associated Challenges

  • Privacy Concerns: Cookies possess the capability to track user online behaviour, raising concerns about potential intrusions into digital privacy. Inadequately secured cookies can serve as vulnerabilities exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to and pilfer personal information.
  • Cookie Bloat: Over time, as users visit more websites, cookies accumulate on their devices, consuming storage space and potentially slowing down web browsing.
  • Impact on User Experience: Users may find these frequent consent requests annoying and disruptive to their browsing experience, as they have to interact with these dialogs repeatedly.
  • However, it’s important to note that not all cookies are intrusive or harmful. Many serve legitimate and helpful purposes. However, concerns about online privacy have led to increased transparency and options for users to control cookie settings. Most modern web browsers allow users to manage and delete cookies, and some websites provide cookie consent notices to inform users about the types of cookies being used and give them the option to accept or decline them.

 

PRACTICE QUESTION

Which among the following is the primary function of cookies used in websites?

(a) To track user location 

(b) To store personal information securely

(c) To improve website performance

(d) To display advertisements

Answer