HomeData Doctors: Why ‘throwing cookies’ is pointless

Data Doctors: Why ‘throwing cookies’ is pointless

Virtually everything you do online is tracked and added to Your Profile primarily for targeted advertising purposes. Ken Colborne from Data Doctors talks about why deleting cookies doesn’t work.

Q: How is a digital footprint different from cookies?

A: The idea that you could hide your identity online was an attraction in the early days, but it’s quite clear that those days are long gone.

Virtually everything you do online is tracked and added to Your Profile primarily for targeted advertising purposes. Ask any digital advertising executive about the ability to target customers using the Internet and see how excited they are about the possibilities.

User tracking and tracking technology has exploded over a long period of time and has become a huge business, so don’t expect things to change anytime soon.


The most common way to track your behavior is to use “cookies,” which are small text files that are placed on your computer with information about your online activities.

This file is a unique identifier based on your past activities – sort of like a grocery store loyalty card. The cookie itself does not contain any of your personal information, but because it is a unique identifier, it is linked to a database containing your past behaviours.

Cookies also allow you to go to a website and log in automatically or return to an e-commerce site to see what you left in your shopping cart.

When you delete a cookie, any of the information associated with it remains in their database, but it no longer acts as a unique identifier. This also means removing any useful information such as automatic login, which requires you to login manually on your next visit.


The standard interaction between your browser and a website provides information to the website about your computer’s operating system, your IP address, the brand and version of your browser, screen resolution, connection speed, date and time along with a host of other details.

The larger intent of this interaction was to allow the website to present its content in the best possible way based on the configuration or type of device you were using.

If you want to see the extreme details that your browser provides for every website you visit, see the Details section of MyBrowserInfo.com.

There are more than 70 different items that can be identified, hence the concept of “fingerprints”.

In an ironic twist, using browser privacy plugins designed to thwart tracking can help make your fingerprint more unique.

It is very unlikely that all details will be identical on any two computers and because this information is provided automatically, it is a unique identifier that is more persistent than a cookie that can be deleted.

In fact, your fingerprint can make it possible to link back to a cookie that has been deleted, allowing the website or ad network to continue adding to your file.

Test your browser

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has A free tool that allows you to test different browsers Which one you use to see which offers the most protection against fingerprints.

I previously wrote about Brave Browser Which does a good job of randomizing the information that usually allows for fingerprinting.

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