Anti-Spyware Takes A Bite Out Of Cookie Accuracy

The biggest impact is on third-party cookies, tiny files an advertiser will plant in a visitor's browser to track which sites the person visits on the marketer's network, JupiterResearch said.
Nevertheless, media reports of threats posed by viruses, identity thieves and phishers have led consumers to err on the side of caution, and not really care if the cookie their deleting through their anti-spyware is benign or a security problem.

"Most harmless cookies are getting deleted because they're caught up in our attempt to protect ourselves from the scum of the Earth," Peterson said.

Fully 32 percent of the 150.8 million online households in the United States are running anti-spyware applications that delete third-party cookies, JupiterResearch said. Nearly 38 million of online households use aggressive anti-spyware that removes nearly 75 percent of tracking cookies.

In a survey in October, 69 percent of companies surveyed by JupiterResearch said data received from first-party cookies was more accurate. Therefore, the research firm recommends companies switch, but cautions that a long-term fix won't be possible without reaching a compromise with anti-spyware vendors.

"First-party cookies are not a panacea, but better is better," Peterson said.

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Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing