updated 06:20 pm EDT, Tue September 27, 2011
Online trackers reveal secrets, can't be erased
Two members of the US Congress have asked the FTC to investigate the use of "supercookies" by several online sites including MSN and Hulu. In a letter to FTC chairman, Jon Liebowitz, Republican Joe Barton and Democrat Ed Markey, expressed concern that the use of these tracking tools might be an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act, which empowers the FTC.
Unlike regular cookies, supercookies are hidden and can't be deleted through normal means. They can be used to recreate a user's profile, even after regular cookies have been deleted.
The two congressmen, who co-chair the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, are concerned that these supercookies may be installed secretly on a computer without any knowledge by the user. They can then be used to allow websites to gain personal information about the user.
"I think supercookies should be outlawed because their existence eats away at consumer choice and privacy," said Rep. Barton in comments made separately from the letter. "How can you protect yourself from unwanted online tracking or your browsing history when you don't even know your information is at risk?"