Getting The Lid Back On The Cookie Jar

Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, or grandma’s special Butter Cookies… they all taste good, and just one more always seems like a good idea but they’re not necessarily high on the health food list. There are other cookies, however, which are not only unhealthy, they can be downright dangerous.
June 3 2021

We’ve all seen them and absentmindedly clicked “OK” or “Accept” on them to get them out of the path of whatever our digital objective may be. Individuals and companies depend and rely on those “OK” or “Accept” clicks as a very viable, and low cost, revenue streams. The idea of using the word “COOKIE” is marketing genius!  After all, what’s more tastily innocuous than a cookie.  In reality, digital cookies are a license to use and sell your data and we allow them to take the data without questioning what they’ll do with it.  And, it’s all perfectly legal because you have signed a contract allowing free use of your data every time you click “OK” or “Accept”.  Most of us would think twice before signing such a contract if it were called a “license” or a “personal data contract”.  But COOKIE is a soft, memory-laden, and passive sounding word.  So, we agree.

The CEO of a major automobile manufacturer said on a national radio broadcast a couple of years ago that by 2024/25 his company would generate more revenue from the data his vehicles collect than from the actual sale of the vehicles themselves. And it’s FREE!
They use the information to send you advertisement incentives to purchase other items that fit your buying patterns. Still, others simply collect as much digital information about us as they can and then simply sell the mass data to larger data consolidators and analysts to be used for a host of purposes.
The revenue from the use and sale of cookie generated data is part of a huge, and growing, data farming network.  In some cases, your data is tracked and analysed to determine your buying patterns.  This allows the vendor to understand your needs and material desires.  
The issue is that it is YOUR DATA and you are freely giving it away!  You are essentially doing their advertising and promotion for them at no charge.

The cookie process is sophisticated, well designed, and essentially irresistible.  For example, we are drawn to a website because it offers the promise of material or information that we need.  We are given enough of a glimpse to convince us that we are in the right place to find what we think we need.  And then, before we’re allowed to enter the site, we’re told we must accept their cookies to gain admission.  Of course, the option to deny the cookies is there.  But there is an implicit warning that if we do not accept the cookies we will not be allowed to see part, or all, of what we’re trying to locate.  It’s a classic carrot and stick scenario and the majority of people succumb to it readily.  In fact, for many it has become an automatic response.

It’s time for consumers to look out for and protect their data rights.  That will require action.  If large numbers of users begin refusing cookies for example, it will force a change in the process.  Perhaps vendors will find creative ways to compensate users for permission to use their information.  Discounts, coupons, crypto currency certificates, or cash credits might be offered as incentives for clicking “OK” or Accept” as examples.  But those incentives will never happen as long as people are willing to blindly give their data away for free.

It’s time to get the lid back on the cookie jar and slap the hands that are sneaking into it for just one more.

The Author

Bob Hecht