Bittersweet cookies

About one month ago a study done by the European Network and Information Agency (ENISA) was published that was concerned with new types of cookies. These cookies (e.g. Flash cookies) are characterized by their capability to save much larger amounts of information than normal HTTP cookies. Furthermore, they are usually much harder to control as they are often not assessable by the cookie management of the browser. According to the authors of this study the security and privacy problems that accompany those cookies shall be countered by a set of different requirements: First, users must be able to consent in a meaningful way (i.e. informed consent is required) when receiving/sending such cookies. Moreover, they should be easy to handle and to delete. Their storage outside the control of the browser should, if at all, be limited. And, finally, there should be other services providing the same functionality but without the need for accepting and/or sending cookies.

Even if these requirements are legitimate it is very questionable whether they can be put into force within the future having the history of traditional cookies and the struggle for shaping them in a privacy-friendly manner in mind. Until then, only special browser add-ons or profiles, like JonDoFox, are mitigating the tracking risk accompanying those cookies while surfing the Web.

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