No, I haven’t found a magic cookie that’s both delicious and worry-free.  These cookies are the online cookies that don’t create calories but can create surprises for us.  Surprises that come in the shape not of yummy cookies but ads that pop up on our computer.  Why?  Because our visits to various websites have become online “footprints” — and a valuable source of information for retailers and online tracking companies.  I’ve written about this issue before and ways that we can take to protect our online and informational privacy — think about whether you do want a website to “remember” you when you see that “remember me” box or button.

There’s an interesting article about another, less privacy-invasive use of online tracking.  In the May 7th Huffington Post, Jules Polonetsky and Christopher Wolf, co-directors of the Future of Privacy Forum, wrote an article titled, “Why They Track Us” (www.huffpost.com/tech).  They discuss the use by retailers of anonymized data that websites can provide retailers to tell the retailer if its online ads have been working.

Their article provides some helpful background on the differences between online tracking used for these types of analytical purposes versus online tracking in order to deliver online ads targeted to us —targeted based on our online “footprints.”  They also talk about the protective means (e.g., encryption) that many sites use for the data.

As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with “being remembered” online as long as we’re making a conscious choice about where and when we want that to happen.  Their article is worth reading to get additional information about this important issue.