Super cookies Scare Me

Disclaimer: I’ve been up all night waiting for my sister to give birth so I can’t be responsible for the deliciousness of the below post!

After completing last week’s and this week’s readings, I’m not only creeped out by what kinds of information is being tracked but also how it’s being tracked. Super cookies scare me! I had never heard that term before this week. And while I was familiar with cookies, this article, took it to a whole new level.

I do think companies need to keep reputation management in mind when tracking their consumers. While I kind of assume I’m being tracked online, many people don’t and many are often concerned with “big brother.” If consumers feel like they are being deceived by a company they trust, that trust can be lost. Companies need to balance wanting to know who their consumers are, and pushing those consumers away.

Do you think all companies who track consumers with super cookies need to be transparent about the type of information they are gathering?

The topic of employers asking for job applicants’ Facebook account information actually came up recently on a social media panel I sat on. I was discussing how my employer uses social media for marketing, but some of my colleagues in human resources talked about how their use social media for recruitment only. They assured the audience that we don’t scan potential employees’ profiles for many of the reasons listed in the article: discrimination based on gender, race, and religion. And frankly, they indicated we don’t have the time or manpower to even do so. Smaller businesses may have the time, but need to be conscious of potential discrimination and profiling.

Do you agree with the lawmakers trying to establish laws against this type of profiling? Or do you think whatever someone posts or doesn’t secure on a social network is fair game for anyone to search?

I think Instagram did the right thing when it revised privacy policy after the public outcry over possible photo selling. Again, when companies try and be sneaky about something and the consumers find out, the will use social media and other outlets to voice opinions and complaints.

Did you delete your Instagram account when the initial revised privacy policy was released? If so, have you since reactivated your account? Why or why not?

I’ve written a lot of the healthcare industry and technology this semester, so I’ll skip an in depth discussion about this article. But I will say no one should be surprised by what is being tracked with their medical records and history, and it’s all thanks to technology.

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6 thoughts on “Super cookies Scare Me

  1. Laura,

    I hope your sister (and niece/nephew) are doing well!

    I think companies have a responsibility to be up front with customers about what type of data they are tracking and how they are doing so. Customers also have a right to be able to “erase” past data on their computers. Supercookies don’t just take that out of the hands of customers, but also out of the hands of the companies in some cases.

    Lawmakers shouldn’t have to create a law regarding employers asking for Facebook passwords, it should fall under the constitution in the fourth amendment. I am still not sure why it doesn’t. Employers can’t ask for your pin number or band password to check if you’ve ever overdrawn your account. They can’t check your mail to see if you have a (snail mail or email) pen pal stationed overseas, or even behind bars. Why should they be able to check your Facebook messages?

    • I’m on board with you on the Facebook account info. I’ve actually never experienced a company asking for that information, but clearly it happens. Anyone who agrees to providing this type of personal information is either desperate for a job or very uninformed about their privacy rights. It’s sad that laws need to be created for people to follow proper etiquette, and even then I’m sure some still won’t.

  2. I think companies have a right to let you know what type of information they’re looking for. Let’s be honest– as it stands, plenty of people do not fully grasp what cookies are looking for. So when it comes to supercookies (or zombiecookies, my favorite way to consider them) there is not way they know what they’re giving up. If a company you trust is tracking your information and now so deep on your computer you can barely delete them? They should let you know… even if it’s only a small disclaimer you can barely read prior to downloading the software… they need to let you know.

    I’m on the fence when it comes to Facebook profiling… I think there is a ton of information you can learn about a person from their Facebook profile (especially if they do not know how to adjust their privacy settings). But, I do not think the use of their password is required (espcially now with the help of search graph) to find out what you need to know. You can tell based on pictures (not messages or status updates) how someone will or will not represent you. But the biggest question is, is that stereoyping or discrimination? I’m not sure. I guess that’s still up for debate.

    • I think a disclaimer would be great, if people ever read those! I know I hardly ever do, but then I accept that fact and probably wouldn’t mind if my information was then tracked and gathered. If people can’t take the time to read a disclaimer, they probably won’t care who is tracking them and for what purpose.

      I do think discrimination is the biggest risk from Facebook profiling. Like you said you can tell a lot by a person’s picture, but is it really telling the whole story? No. A person can look a certain way or come from a certain ethnicity and not fit into any stereotypes. It’s a risk employers need to consider because even if it doesn’t impact then one or two times, it will at some point.

  3. “Do you think all companies who track consumers with super cookies need to be transparent about the type of information they are gathering?”

    Sure, they should be transparent about it by why would they? The information they are collecting via a super cookie is apparently a lot more robust than an average cookie, but regular cookies are somewhat important and often used, too. So how often do you see a disclaimer for the a regular cookie?

    I don’t I’ve ever seen a disclaimer explaining the why Brooks Brothers needs to collect the information they do.

    Even if the super cookie had disclaimers, there will be other technology which will be just as invasive. I think in today’s society, one must assumed they are being watched, tracked and data mined.

    • I’m agree Dave. In a perfect world, a disclaimer would be a good “heads up” for individuals, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Now everyone should assume they are being tracked in one way or another… or in every way! (que creepy laugh).

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