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‘Bittersweet Cookies’: New Types of ‘cookies’ Raise Online Security & Privacy Concerns in EU Agency Paper

BRUSSELS Greece February 18, 2011 25 May 2011

The new Agency Position Paper identifies and analyzes cookies in terms of security vulnerabilities and the relevant privacy concerns. Cookies were originally used to facilitate browser-server interaction. Lately, driven by the advertising industry, they are used for other purposes; e.g. advertising management, profiling, tracking, etc. The possibilities to misuse cookies both exist and are being exploited.

The new type of cookies support user-identification in a persistent manner and do not have enough transparency of how they are being used. Therefore, their security and privacy implications are not easily quantifiable. To mitigate the privacy implications, the Agency recommends, among other things, that:

     - Informed consent should guide the design of systems using cookies; the       use of cookies and the data stored in cookies should be transparent for       the users.     - Users should be able to easily manage cookies: in particular news       cookie types. As such all cookies should have removal mechanisms easy       to understand and use by any user.     - Storage of cookies outside browsers control should be limited or       prohibited.     - Users should be provided with another service channel if they do not       accept cookies.  

Udo Helmbrecht

"Much work is needed to make these next-generation cookies as transparent and user-controlled as regular HTTP cookies, as to safeguard the privacy and security aspects of consumers and business alike".

Jose Fernandes

25 May 2011

For full paper;, or

(Due to the length of the URLs, it may be necessary to copy and paste the hyperlinks into your Internet browser’s URL address field. Remove the space if one exists.)

SOURCE ENISA – European Network and Information Security Agency

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