Provided as a facility built into many browsers, cookies can monitor and chronicle an individual’s visit to the web sites, what they look at and how long they spend in different areas. Also, they can find out if the visitors have been to the respective site before.
By themselves, cookies will not even reveal the name and address of the visitors. The real power from cookies is when they are linked to other information. Typically, this is when registration forms are used to gain access to a particular web site.
In some situations, cookies can act as a password, or can be used to stor ongoing orders – a sort of virtual shopping basket that store items selected for purchase, even if they are amassed during several web site visits – and are activated as far as the company is concerned only when the visitor presses the buy button.
Cookies can also to present an individual visitor with personalised prefferences based on the topics it shows as having been of interest before.
Cookies are not just for web tracking but for added value. In the case of regularly visits, the cookies become part of an intelligent learning process based on what the visitor looked at before.
But the cookies were presented generally as “web spy”. It is true that information gained by cookies can be swapped or sold to a third party company that centralises it attaches it to other information and a whole chunk of an Internet user’s life could be available to anyone who pays for it.