The Cookie Jar: Privacy Awareness for Internet Usage

Participants:

Farah Al-Shaar, 4th Year Honours Undergraduate Student
Vicki Ha, 3rd Year Honours Undergraduate Student
Lina Hdeib, 4th Year Honours Undergraduate Student
Supervisor: Kori Inkpen, Associate Professor

Project Description

Purpose of the ProjectIn this project, we plan to explore awareness issues related to .cookie. interactions during web browsing and other online activities. Cookies are information packets generated and dispensed by web servers and deposited onto users. computers. They may be used for purposes such as to enabling customization of web pages or saving website login information, but cookies can also have less benign purposes, such as tracking web usage or other personal information. Web Servers store cookies is stored locally on users. computers and may in order be to accessed to the contained information at a later date by the same web server date. This exchange of information usually takes place automatically, in the web browser background automatically, and commonly, most of the time without the knowledge of the user. As such, users may be completely unaware of the information stored in their cookies, or even the existence of these cookies.
Privacy issues are of critical importance with enormous amounts of information being exchanged through Internet usage, privacy issues are of critical importance. In particular, several researchers have explored the role that cookies play with respect to privacy of personal information (Millet et al., 2001; Chan, 2004; Lin & Loui, 1998; Peng & Cisna, 2000) (refs). Millett, Friedman and Felton (2001) investigated the issue of informed consent related to cookie technology, and how showed the ways in which browsers fail to provide appropriate support. Chan (2004) identifies several problems related to cookies and proposed a new approach to management of cookies utilizing smart cards. The common theme found in the majority of research papers related to cookies is the need for better tools to better effectively manage the exchange of information through cookies, and thus mitigate privacy concerns.

We plan to explore the level of understanding and awareness people have related to of Internet cookies, and investigate ways in which to increase this awareness. We also intend to develop a prototype cookie manager to investigate mechanisms for effectively managing privacy issues related to cookies.

Objective

The goal of this study is to explore users. awareness of the information that is being transferred through cookies when they browse the World Wide Web, the actions users take to manage cookies, and the types of information users feel uncomfortable transmitting through cookies.

Sponsored in part by a grant from Computing Research Association’s
Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W)
Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates. (CREU) program.

Dalhousie University
6050 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3H 1W5
(902)494-1831 (Kori Inkpen)
(902)449-4557 (Vicki Ha)