Cookies, Browsers, and Keeping Them Separate

The following article is an excerpt from my recent nonfiction release How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Tips for Keeping the Cookie Monster Out of Your Browser

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins

 Not all cookies are bad, be they edible or data dropped into your browser (Image copyrighted by Colleen Collins)

Not all cookies are bad, be they edible or data dropped into your browser (Image copyrighted by Colleen Collins)

What's a Cookie?

Cookies are small amounts of data that websites drop into your browser so they can monitor your internet browsing activity. As they are text, they cannot install anything on your computer. And they are not necessarily evil little creatures as some clue in your browser about preferences you have established for certain sites (such as reading newest comments first or ensuring secure logins).

And then there are the cookies that surreptitiously monitor your internet comings and goings, then feed that data to advertisers and others. If you don’t want your personal internet browsing to be stored in their databases, below are three tips for taking a byte out of those cookies.

Tip #1: Cookie Notices on Websites

Many websites have a symbol, icon or notice that by your visiting the site, you agree to its cookie-gathering policy. Such notices say something like “We use cookies to improve your experience. By your continued use, you accept such use. To change your settings, please see our policy.”

If you don’t want to agree to a site’s cookie-gathering, simply leave the site.

Tip # 2: Do Not Track Options

 Do Not Track options block approximately 70% of web-tracking sites (image is in public domain)

Do Not Track options block approximately 70% of web-tracking sites (image is in public domain)

Fortunately, browsers offer Do Not Track options so users can opt-out of advertising services and other analytics on websites. Unfortunately, the Do Not Track option is similar to the Do Not Call registry—selecting the option doesn’t necessary mean that the website is going to respect your request.

Nevertheless, based on a recent report from the Information Commissioner’s Office, Do Not Track options block approximately 70% of third-party web tracking, so view it as a basic protective step. Here is a list of advertisers who claim to honor Do Not Track requests: Do Not Track: Implementations

Below are the steps for how to do this for Chrome & Safari (the Do Not Track option is on by default for Mozilla):

Chrome: Preferences/Settings->Advanced Settings–>(Select appropriate boxes)

Safari: Preferences–>Privacy–>(Select appropriate boxes)

For other browsers, check what security or privacy options are available under Preferences.

Tip #3: Add-Ons/Extensions

A second line of defense are add-ons and extensions that you download to your browser. These are not 100% remedies, but another, tougher layer of cookie-protection on top of Do Not Track settings.

The below services are free, with most offering more additional, comprehensive services for a monthly fee:

• Ghostery

• Disconnect

• AdBlock Plus

• Privacy Badger

Please do not copy/distribute any articles without written permission from Colleen Collins. Do not copy/distribute or otherwise use any mages noted as copyrighted or licensed.

 

Click on book cover to go to Amazon page.

"A must-have for any writer serious about crafting authentic private eyes. Collins knows her stuff." 
~Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author
"If you're looking for the lowdown on private investigations, this is it."
~Bill Crider, author of the Truman Smith mystery series