Cookie profiling, also called web profiling, is the use of persistent or permanent cookies to track a user’s overall activity online. This tracking does not just happen when you are on a particular site, but it occurs the whole time you are browsing. This kind of profiling activity is often done by marketers who buy advertising rights on thousands of popular websites in order to collect and collate cookie information and create a single “profile” of a user. Internet advertising, as it is called, targets potential customers based on the manner they browse the Internet. This is the very reason why most websites flash banner ads on their pages. This matter may not be a big deal for some, but others take their privacy seriously and are uneasy about being “followed around” and profiled. If you use this type of cookies, the user will give explicit consent.
Article 22 of EU Regulation 2016/679 and Article 122 of the Code on data protection will apply.
Cookie profiling that marketers do is actually less alarming than other attempts of obtaining personal information online. Internet phishing, considered now a cyber crime, is a fraudulent way of acquiring highly sensitive data like credit card information, social security number, usernames, passwords, and bank information. This can definitely harm a victim greatly compared to just being followed around whenever you are online using cookies stored on your computer. However, if marketers acquire personal information by purchasing them from social networks, that is a different case. Users not knowing that their personal information is being shared can be considered a detestable action, even if some users do not actually take it as offensive.
Websites store cookies by automatically storing a text file containing encrypted data on a user’s machine or browser the moment he or she lands on a page online. Whether it is a permanent or a temporary cookie, the idea is to create a “log” of the user to facilitate future visits to the said site. When these cookies are collected to create a certain idea about a user, that is called cookie profiling, or web profiling. Collated data may include browsing habits, demographic data, and statistical information, which are what marketers are after in order to mark a user. Cookie profiling is performed by advertisers, but the cookies they need to create these profiles are obtained from several online sources, mostly from administrators of popular sites receiving millions of traffic monthly. These administrators collect cookie data and offer them to marketers for extra profit.