Tracking: it's not just for the NSA anymore
A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that the NSA used something called "persistent cookies" on their website to track the behavior of users visiting the site. Now, CNet has a report up saying that it's not just the NSA that that's keeping an eye on you -- it's dozens of governmental agencies, all misusing cookies and storing various levels of behavior and information on you.
Three questions pop up immediately: 1.) what are persistent cookies, 2.) why is it a big deal, and 3.) what does it mean for me? I'll try to tackle each of these as best I can:
1. What are "persistent cookies?" First, a quick definition of cookies: they're small text files that a website places on your computer for a number of reasons, from tracing your behavior while you're on the site to letting you personalize how you view the site. (More on cookies from Wikipedia, thankfully gender-slur-free.) Persistent cookies are ones that have been given a date to expire a long time from now, such as 30 years; other cookies delete themselves when you close your browser, or other similar temporary time-limits.