Tracking cookies is an ominous sounding name for a rather innocuous text file. Cookies are text files. Tracking cookies are text files. What’s the difference? If you listen to anti-spyware companies or paranoia-obsessed netizens, they’re ominous little critters dropped on your PC by evil advertising networks, like DoubleClick (owned by Google), which track you as you browse the web.
Tracking cookies and cookies are the same. Tracking cookies can indeed track you from one page to another on the same site, but they can’t track you across the Internet. The information gathered by these cookies is not personal. It is information such as what ads you are clicking, which supposedly tells the advertising network what your interests are, so when on particular sites, the advertising network can show you Maalox ads, because by now your stomach has gotten so upset from worrying about tracking cookies.
Advertisers may well build a profile tied to your IP address. And if they do, they aren’t going to use it to send out little men in suits to track you down and shove New Balance running shoes in your face and force you to wear them. They’re not going to call you. They’re not going to send you regular mail. They’re not going to visit your house. They may well show you ads for products your “profile” indicates that you may be interested in. Some people find that an invasion of privacy. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about tracking cookies and cookies in general. It does make for good press and it draws a lot of traffic to blogs and tech sites – especially if he headlines are ridiculous enough.
Actually, tracking cookies serve other purposes. Cookies (tracking or otherwise) prevent you from seeing the same ads over and over. They also help keep you logged into a site, prevent you from seeing more than one obnoxious pop-up ad in the same session, save your preferences for sites with personal options and settings, and perform many other useful functions.
We don’t blame SUPERAntiSpyware for calling them tracking cookies. They are in a competitive market. If one anti-spyware didn’t find these evil tracking cookies and other programs did, then many would probably think the programs that did, were better. So SUPERAntiSpyware has to play the tracking cookie game. SUPERAntiSpyware does give you the option to ignore tracking cookies as threats.
The real issue with cookies, tracking or not, is they take people’s eyes off the real threats they face on the Web. Cookies are text files. Tracking cookies are text files. They are not programs; they are not malware. They are not any kind of “ware”. The suffix “ware” indicates an application, a program. Cookies and tracking cookies do not “run”, nor can they replicate themselves on your computer and spread. All cookies, tracking or not, can be deleted simply by right-clicking and selecting “delete”.
You’ll all be safer and enjoy the web more if you focus on the real dangers of the web, and forget about “tracking cookies”. Concern yourself with and be wary of the spyware, malware, viruses, drive-by downloads, worms, phishing attacks, malicious ads, and rogue security programs – that are so pervasive on the Web. Cookies are mere nuisances, they are not dangerous, tracking cookies or not.