Most major websites now install cookies on your computer, which track what you do online. Over time, these cookies develop a profile, which becomes your digital fingerprint, to a certain extent. You may have noticed after searching for a specific product, advertisements for that particular product or brand appearing on various other websites you visit.
The New York Times reports , “advertisers are increasingly using powerful software known as supercookies, such as so-called Flash and document object management (or DOM) cookies, which can hold more information, and Web bugs or beacons, which let sites record statistics like what ads attracted you to the site and whether you bought something. They are not removed when you clear out your cookies.”
The “harm” done here is less damaging than it is invasive. Meaning I don’t see any physical harm or identity theft ever happening as a result of this refined marketing. More so, it is very intrusive to some peoples web surfing habits and the collecting of this type of information will continually define what we are presented when we travel to different websites.
With numerous privacy watchdogs taking this kind of advertising offensively, and the Obama administration now stepping in, we will surely see standards in this kind of marketing practice appear over the next few years.