What Are Supercookies? Here’s How to Remove Them Properly

MakeUseOf | 8/22/2019 | Gavin Phillips
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In March 2016, the FCC hit Verizon with a $1.35 million fine for tracking customers with a unique identifier header (UIDH), also known as a “supercookie.” It was big news when the FCC forced Verizon to allow customers to opt-out of the tracking. But what is a supercookie? Why is a supercookie worse than a regular cookie?

Here’s what you need to know about supercookies—and how to remove them.


What Is a Cookie?

To understand supercookies, you need to understand what regular cookies are. An HTTP cookie, usually just known as a cookie, is a small piece of code that’s downloaded to a user’s browser when they visit a website. The cookie stores small pieces of information useful to the website, the user, and interactions between the two.

Example - Items - Amazon - Shopping - Cart

For example, when you put items in your Amazon shopping cart, those items store in a cookie. If you leave Amazon, when you return, your items remain in your cart. The cookie sends that information back to Amazon when you return to the site.

Regular cookies serve other functions too, like telling a website you are already logged in, so you don’t have to log in again when you return. More controversially, third-party tracking cookies follow you around the internet, reporting back to marketing and other companies about what you’re up to online.


What Is a Supercookie?

A supercookie is a tracking cookie but has a more sinister use. Supercookies also have different functionality to a regular cookie, too.

Cookie - Internet - Data - Cookies - Cookies

With a regular cookie, if you don’t want it to follow you around the internet, you can clear your browsing data, your cookies, and more. You can block cookies and third-party cookies from your browser, and auto-delete cookies after your browser session ends. You have to log into each site again, and your shopping cart items won’t store, but it also...
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