Businesses using cookies has long been a controversial subject, unfortunately I’m not referring to the delicious snack but the text file that is downloaded to YOUR computer when you visit a website which uses them (European Commission). They are used so that the website then knows information about you and your preferences or previous searches, such as perhaps your chosen language or desired holiday location in order to prevent users from having to re enter information between separate pages or when re visiting the website (European Commission).
Sounds overwhelmingly useful perhaps? They are designed to make the online experience easier, not only in an online shopping environment but also on platforms such as social media where brands can utilise a users interests to create relevant targeted advertising, an optimal situation for both parties where brands waste no money and time on irrelevant marketing and consumers recieve better suited offers (Vinjamuri, 2011).
This storing of information, which previously could be against one’s knowledge until the EU legislation that was introduced in 2012, could be said to violate consumer privacy (Greenwald, 2014) by obtaining and distributing information about a user across their browsing experience. With 40% of the worlds population being internet users and that proportion expected to increase (Kelion, 2013) the amount of personal data stored will only increase, so will we see problems develop from this?
Figure 1: The summary of Patrick Collinson’s 2010 article “Beware the cookies: they can cost you money” 2010, produced by Arthur Boulding.
Video 1: Arthur Boulding 2016.
This cannot be said for all online based businesses though, for example Facebook have been in repeated trouble for altering the levels of personal information that are broadcast across it’s network. These changes can scare customers (Vinjamuri, 2011), with Greenwald (2014) suggesting that our privacy is universal and instinctive even if we feel we have nothing to hide and are not committing illegal acts.
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BBC, available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/guides/about-cookies accessed on 26/11/16.
Arthur Boulding 2016, Video created using PowToon, available at: https://www.powtoon.com/c/gljDolHu6I1/1/m accessed on: 27/11/16.
P Collinson, 2010, The Guardian, available at: https://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2010/aug/07/computer-cookies-booking-online accessed on: 25/11/16.
European Commission, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/ipg/basics/legal/cookies/index_en.htm accessed on 25/11/16.
GREENWALD 2014, TED transcript available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters/transcript?language=en accessed on 25/11/16.
Leo Kelion (2013), BBC news online, available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24426739 accessed on: 25/11/16.
momondo, available at: http://www.momondo.co.uk/inspiration/do-cookies-increase-flight-prices/#0eYQfdoLOWpFaxby.97 accessed on 27/11/16.
H Morris, 2016, The Telegraph, available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/advice/how-airlines-set-the-price-of-flight-tickets-and-how-to-beat-them/ accessed on: 26/11/16.
D Vinjamuri, Forbes, available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2011/11/03/ethics-and-the-5-deadly-sins-of-social-media/#48e3979d37ad accesed on 25/11/16.
Skyscanner, available at: https://www.skyscanner.net/news/tips/do-cookies-increase-flight-prices/ accessed on: 27/11/16.
N Trend, 2014, The Telegraph, available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/advice/Do-airlines-raise-fares-while-you-search/ accessed on 25/11/16.