Internet Tracking

Topics: Internet, World Wide Web, Website Pages: 4 (1529 words) Published: November 30, 2007
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 web site. When the user electronically enters the web site, the host computer automatically loads the file(s) to the user's computer. The cookie is a tracking device, which records the electronic movements made by the user at the site, as well as identifiers such as a username and password. Commercial web sites make use of cookies to allow a user to establish an account on the first visit to the site and so to avoid having to enter account information i.e., address, credit card number, financial activity on subsequent visits. User information can also be collected unbeknown to the user and subsequently used for whatever purpose the host intends. Cookies are files, and so can be transferred from the host computer to another computer. This can occur legally i.e., selling of a subscriber mailing list or illegally i.e., "hacking in" to a host computer and copying the file. Also, cookies can be acquired as part of a law enforcement investigation. A program called Adware could potentially be another source of tracking device. Adware is software integrated into or bundled with a program. It is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertising material to a computer after the software is installed on it...
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