Internet Tracking Essay

1526 Words Nov 14th, 2007 7 Pages
Electronic passage through the Internet leaves a trail that can be traced. Tracing is a process that follows the Internet activity backwards, from the recipient to the user. As well, a user's Internet activity on web sites can also be tracked on the recipient site i.e., what sites are visited and how often. Sometimes this tracking and tracing ability is used to generate email to the user promoting a product that is related to the sites visited. User information, however, can also be gathered covertly. This leaves us wondering if tracking devices violates the user's privacy.
There are different types of tracking devices; most common one is called cookies. Cookies are computer files that are stored on a user's computer during a visit to a
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Spyware is like a cookie, in which information about the user's activity is tracked, reported, and often re-sold, often without the knowledge or consent of the user. Of even greater concern is malware, which may interfere with the function of other software applications, in order to force users to visit a particular web site.
It is not uncommon for people to confuse "adware" with "spyware" and "malware", especially since these concepts overlap. For example, if one user installs "adware" on a computer, and consents to a tracking feature, the "adware" becomes "spyware" when another user visits that computer, and interacts with and is tracked by the "adware" without their consent.
Spyware has prompted an outcry from computer security and privacy advocates, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Often, spyware applications send the user's browsing habits to an ad-serving company, which then targets adverts at the user based on their interests.
Another type of internet tracking device is called a web bug. A web bug is a widely used, yet virtually undetectable, means of tracking people's Internet surfing habits is joining its better-known cousin, the cookie, as the subject of several lawsuits and a privacy initiative by the government.
"The technology, often called web bugs or 1-pixel gifs, is prompting further concern that the once-freewheeling web is becoming more like an Orwellian Big Browser. Like cookies,

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