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Discussion about cookies and fingerprinting

I presented my discussion of cookies and how they can be an invasion of privacy to the class. I started with some basic information and transitioned to a group discussion and finished with a quick demonstration.

  • I started with some basic information about cookies such as what they are, how they are used, how they are misused, and how to possibly remove them. Information was found in several places but can be mostly found here: http://www.allaboutcookies.org/cookies/
  • After that, I opened up my presentation to some open discussion among the class about how they feel about cookies in regards to cookies being forcefully put on their computers without their knowledge. I started the discussion by mentioning an issue with invasion of privacy. Some classmates weighed in with their thoughts on the issue.
  • One classmate discussed informing the user about cookies before the website is allowed to put them on computers, which flowed into my next point: In 2012, UK legislation was passed forcing websites to be clear about their cookie usage and inform users.
  • After discussing cookies for a good amount, I moved on to “fingerprinting” which is the new method of how advertisers target a user and a general market. Basically your browser transmits information about your computer, which then gets fingerprinted to create a unique ID about your computer. This information includes which browser you use, which add-ons you have installed, and what software you have installed. More information can be found here.
  • I ended my discussion with some quick demonstrations. First, I showed the class this website: https://panopticlick.eff.org/, which shows what your browser is transmitting which could be captured by a fingerprint. The final thing I did was show the class a website which has information on how to delete and manage cookies. The website has information specific to each browser and how to find the cookie management options: http://www.aboutcookies.org/DEFAULT.ASPX?page=2 .
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