The twilight of the cookies

Cookies are dying. Experts assured that their end is near. The various changes in digital marketing and the current popularity of cellphone environments have made them age.

Cookies were created in 1994. Since then, they became one of the must relevant tools used to follow users in the Web. Nonetheless, right now the existence of cookies is in a precarious place. The reason is simply the discussion about data privacy and the existence of a new normative in regard to this subject.

So, probably, soon we will be assisting the cookies funeral. But before that let us understand a little what they are about and how they have invaded our virtual space.

What are cookies?

The term cookies has its origin in 1979, in the manual for the fseek routine in the standard C library. In this document there’s a reference to the Magic Cookies. These consist of 2 pieces of information that are shared and that, in appearance, may lack an explicit sense.

The cookies were born in June of 1994, when the programmer Lou Montulli, employee of Netscape Communications, develops an app of e-commerce. In this context, they determined to keep that all the transactional steps the user makes in the browser and not in the company’s server. That’s how it all started.  

A cookie is a folder created by a website that contains little amounts of data and are sent between an emissary and a receptor. In the case of the Internet, the emissary would be the server where the website is hosted and the receptor is the browser that you use to visit each website.

Gabriela González, en Qué son las cookies de tu navegador y para qué sirven. (What are the cookies of your browser and why are they useful?)

What information do they store?

Cookies can be your own or from any third-party.

  • The personal, as its name indicates, are the ones that generates the website when users visit it. Some common examples are: the sign in information or the language preference.
  • The third-parties are the ones that services or external providers create. Enterprises widely use this type to insert publicity content to users.

A relevant detail about cookies is that they don’t store personal information that is sensitive about the users, like bank accounts or credit cards. These are neither a virus nor scam and they don’t open pop-ups that are usually very annoying.

It’s important to point out that the cookies don’t help to recognize users as independent people but as a browser, not dependent on who is using the same one. If you want to corroborate this fact do the following experiment: use a browser that you don’t usually open and you’ll see that it doesn’t realize that you’re the same person.

Tracking our navigation habits to understand how we behave in the virtual space is the most commonly debated subject in the use of cookies, even though they weren’t created for such purpose.

Universal ID and the death of the cookies

In January 2020, Google Chrome announced that in two years it will stop accepting third-party cookies. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla followed this steps as well and promoted restrictions to protect the privacy of the users.

Experts are in favor of a necessary migration to another type of digital identification. In this issue, the topic of individual users’ profiles that are in the databases of social networks or online stores.

“The industry is asking for a Universal ID, a user identifier that trespasses the boundaries of the great platforms and allows an anonymous recognition of profiles, of free access by any of the actors of the digital publicitary ecosystem (with the programmatic purchase at the head of the race).  This would presuppose the definite death of cookies”, refers Alessandro Cosci, paid media supervisor at Kanlli.

Regulating the cookies at the European Union

Regulating cookies in a more and more connected world hasn’t been an easy task. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) of the European Union of May 2018 is proof of it.

That regulation caused certain chaos regarding the cookie subject. It has even been updates to demand greater responsibility to the creators of websites. “On the one hand, (an update was made) referring the user obligation to accept the cookies to be able to view the webs content. On the other hand, the point related to the gestures that express consent”, explains Judith Vives, journalist at La Vanguardia.

What do you think about the cookies? Do you usually read the warnings that every web site gives you about the use of this resource? Informing ourselves about digital privacy subjects is becoming more important…count on us to do so!


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Aline Marie Rodríguez

Journalist with my pen and my lens. Photography lover.

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