Nope, supercookies are not the latest mall food court franchise to be invading a shopping space near you (how awesome would that be?), nor are they Cookie Monster’s nemeses from a planet of baked goods (though, again, awesome if it were true).
Supercookies are of the digital type that’s gained notoriety in the last decade and a half. You know, those little digital crumbs that track where you browse, so those ads for erectile dysfunction medication are tailored especially for you.
In this case, it’s a a cookie that tracks all mobile browsing on a mobile device and that, reportedly, could also report the location of a device without the need of cell towers and that could easily provide information about the user and their internet habits to marketers as well as federal agencies with three letter acronyms. Accessing the internet on smartphones and tablets is to millennials what bee’s knees are to your grandparents and the data supercookies collect are of interest anyone who engages in commerce or surveillance.
AT&T used to enable supercookies on its network, but as of November 2014, the company stopped the practice. However, Verizon wireless continued the practice until, reportedly, today. The company will allow its customers to opt-out of the program, though most probably didn’t know they were opted-in to begin with.
Sprint and T-Mobile didn’t use the technology. While the nation’s two largest cellular carriers now offer an opt-out, you wouldn’t need a tinfoil hat to to deduce that they’ve probably moved on to another, as-of-yet unnamed tracking scheme that security experts haven’t sniffed out yet.
Via the New York Times. Photo by Esti Alvarez (esti-)/flickr.