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Browse Prior Art Database

Improved privacy in the use of Web browser cookies

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000021980D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Feb-18
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Feb-18
Document File: 2 page(s) / 34K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Web browsers such as Netscape Navigator use so-called "cookies" for letting servers store and retrieve information on the client machine. A cookie may simply be string of characters that is given to the client by the server. At a later session, the server may request the previously given cookie and thereby restore the state of the previous session. The purpose of the cookies is extend the capabilities of Web-based client/server applications. However, the use of cookies significantly compromises the client's privacy when the latter's identity is either currently known or may later become known to the server. Some browsers allow users to disable the cookie mechanism, but users do benefit from the cookie mechanism because it can saves them the time and effort need to retype information they have already submitted to the server. Furthermore, some servers require the mechanism to be enabled. Thus, a user who is interested in the benefits of the cookie mechanism is in need for a better protection of his or her privacy. The invention enhances the capability of the user to control the cookies receiving and retrieving process. This enhancement is implemented by an enhanced Web browser with a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows the user to enter either permanent or one-time instructions to the enhanced browser as to how to handle cookies for various domain names.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 51% of the total text.

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Improved privacy in the use of Web browser cookies

Web browsers such as Netscape Navigator use so-called "cookies" for letting servers store and retrieve information on the client machine. A cookie may simply be string of characters that is given to the client by the server. At a later session, the server may request the previously given cookie and thereby restore the state of the previous session. The purpose of the cookies is extend the capabilities of Web-based client/server applications. However, the use of cookies significantly compromises the client's privacy when the latter's identity is either currently known or may later become known to the server. In fact, the cookies mechanism allows the server to collect all the kinds of information revealed by the client during multiple sessions, where connection is established with any of the server machines that has the same internet domain name. For example, the various servers with the yahoo.com domain name, such as login.yahoo.com, shopping.yahoo.com, maps.yahoo.com, travel.yahoo.com, etc., can share all the information they collect about a user, and probably know exactly who the user is even when the user is under the impression that his or her identity is not known. Thus, the server can record the names of all of the servers' files requested by the client (including text, audio, video, etc.) and every piece of information submitted by the client, such as personal information, bids and purchases and all kinds of financial transactions, messages, chat and e-mail, search commands, and so on. The cookie that the server places on the client machine facilitates the association between the current client and the information that had been collected during previous sessions where the client used the same machine to connect with any server with the same domain name. Some browsers allow users to disable the cookie mechanism, but users do benefit from the cookie mechanism because it can saves them the time and effort need to retype information they have already submitted to the server. Furthermore, some servers require the mechanism to be enabled. Thus, a user who is interested in the benefits of the cookie mechanism is in need for a better protection of his or her privacy.

The invention enhances the capability of the user to control the cookies receiving and retrieving process. This enhancement is implemented by an enhanced Web browser with a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows the user to enter either permanent or one-time instructions to the enhanced browser as to how to handle cookies for various domain names.

a. Multiple cookies for a single server . The ability of the server to collect information about the user is diminished to a level desirable by the user. The enhanced browser may store several cookies from one server (while the server may not even be aware that this is done), and return only one of these cookies when requested by the server, based on...