The term "cookie" is the name given to a small file of information (normally less than 1k) that a web site, accessed by you the visitor, places onto your hard disk drive so that the depositing site can remember something about you when you access that site, or in some cases other sites, at a later time.

The term cookie derives from UNIX program objects called "magic cookies". These are digital tokens that are attached to a user or program and that change depending on the areas entered by the user or the program selected by that user.

Typically, the cookie records your preferences when using a particular web site. Using the internet's HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), each request that you make for a web page is independent of every other request. For this reason, the web page server (the computer system where the requested information is stored) has no memory of pages that it has previously sent to a user or anything about their previous visits, if any, without the utilization of cookie technology.

There are two kinds of cookies: Session Cookies and Persistent Cookies.
The "session cookie", also called a transient cookie is a type of cookie that is erased when the user closes the active web browser. The session cookie is stored in temporary memory and is not retained after the browser is closed. Session cookies do not collect information from the user's computer. They typically store information in the form of a session identification that does not personally identify the website visitor or website user.
The second type of cookie is the "persistent cookie", also referred to as a permanent cookie, or a stored cookie, is a cookie that is stored on a userís hard drive until it expires (persistent cookies are set with expiration dates) or until the user deletes the cookie. Persistent cookies are used to collect identifying information about the user, such as web surfing behavior or user preferences for a specific website.

We may utilize both types of cookies. The cookie technology utilized by our websites deposits a cookie that normally expires within six months, so that there should be little concern about collecting and storing outdated and unnecessary information. We never collect personally identifiable information.

You can view the cookies that have been stored on your hard disk drive, although the content stored in each cookie may not make much sense. The location of the cookies depends on your browser. Internet Explorer stores cookies as separate files in a Windows folder named "\Cookies." Netscape stores all cookies in a single "cookies.txt" file. Opera stores them in a single "cookies.dat" file.

Cookies are most commonly used to alternate the advertising content that a web site sends to your screen, so that it does not keep sending the same ads again and again as you receive a succession of requested web pages. Cookies can also be used to customize requested pages based on your browser type, video characteristics, or other information that you may have provided to that web site. Web users must agree, in their browser setup, or manually depending on their system settings, to allow cookies be saved on their hard disk drive.

As a general rule, cookies help web site operators serve their users better and more quickly. On all of the web pages on this web site there is no personally identifiable information conveyed in either direction, either sent or received and stored, in a cookie. There is nothing transmitted to which you have not consented, and there is never any information externally aggregated or exchanged.

Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA. A cookie, however, can be used to gather more information about a user than would be generally possible without their use, generally about use patterns. Keep in mind, you control the information and the acceptance of cookies.



Last updated 04/10/2005