Invented by a programmer at Netscape some 20 years ago, cookies collect information from Web sites that you frequent and provide information about you to advertisers. Simply put cookies are tracking users for advertising. Advertisers are clamoring for the information about your online habits. Online display and search advertising is a more than $35 billion a year industry. Apple, Google and Facebook are notoriously collect data from users. Many other smaller companies including recent startups such as AddThis, BlueCava, Drawbridge, and Tapad have entered the field recently. These new comers now collecting information from smartphones, tablets, PCs, and Internet connected televisions using cookies or other newer ways.
You can use your browser security settings to block or limit cookies collecting data on you. Mozilla’s do not track have been used by more than 12 percent computer users worldwide to prevent cookies collecting information on them. So does Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari. This is good news for iPhone users which don’t allow cookies on mobile devices.
Unfortunately some startups and newcomers to the field are finding new ways to collect data on your Internet habits. They are difficult to detect and disable since they use using IP addresses and user operating systems.