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Flash Cookies and Privacy

8 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2009  

Ashkan Soltani

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information

Shannon Canty

Clemson University

Quentin Mayo

Jacksonville State University

Lauren Thomas

Louisiana State University

Chris Jay Hoofnagle

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information; University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: August 10, 2009

Abstract

This is a pilot study of the use of 'Flash cookies' by popular websites. We find that more than 50% of the sites in our sample are using flash cookies to store information about the user. Some are using it to 'respawn' or re-instantiate HTTP cookies deleted by the user. Flash cookies often share the same values as HTTP cookies, and are even used on government websites to assign unique values to users. Privacy policies rarely disclose the presence of Flash cookies, and user controls for effectuating privacy preferences are lacking.

Keywords: Privacy, tracking, flash, cookies, local stored objects, usability, online advertising, behavioral targeting, self-help

JEL Classification: D18

Suggested Citation

Soltani, Ashkan and Canty, Shannon and Mayo, Quentin and Thomas, Lauren and Hoofnagle, Chris Jay, Flash Cookies and Privacy (August 10, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1446862 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1446862

Ashkan Soltani

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information ( email )

102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
United States

Shannon Canty

Clemson University ( email )

United States

Quentin Mayo

Jacksonville State University ( email )

700 Pelham Rd N
Jacksonville, AL 36265
United States

Lauren Thomas

Louisiana State University ( email )

Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

Chris Jay Hoofnagle (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information ( email )

212 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
United States
510-643-0213 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://hoofnagle.berkeley.edu

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

344 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-643-0213 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://hoofnagle.berkeley.edu

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