The Sinister Nature of Flash Cookies
Develop | Posted October 30, 2009

Some food for thought ... Have you cleared the cookies from your browser lately? Think that makes you untraceable?

Think again.

Over the summer, more than half of the Internet's top Web sites were found to have been setting Flash cookies to track users and store information about them, for example, their clicks and visits around Web sites. And only four of those sites mentioned their use of these cookies in their privacy policies.

What's alarming about these cookies is that most users don't even know they exist, and they can't be controlled with your normal cookie privacy controls, meaning you're traceable, even if you don't want to be. Not to mention the cookies can be used to "undelete" traditional cookies that a user already deleted, earning them the nickname "re-spawning' cookies.

Some sites have changed their policies with regards to Flash cookies, and there are some tools out there that address this clandestine tracking method, but I still can't help feeling like my privacy is being violated in some way.

This is an interesting addition to the cookie conversation that's currently in full swing among government, marketing and advertising circles, and I'm curious to see if any new regulations emerge as a result.


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