A cookie is a small piece of text file that is created by Web sites and saved in client computers that stores information about users and user preferences. The configurations and privacy settings in Internet Explorer 6 however can be set according to a user preferred level by clicking the Tools menu, Internet Options and then the Privacy tab.

An administrator can specify custom privacy settings for users with less system privileges or even remove the Privacy tab altogether from the interface in the Internet Options dialog box. Administrator must be contacted if the Privacy tab is not available in internet options.

Commercial Use of Cookies

Commercial Web servers often use cookies to follow behaviors and profiles of individual users to build on that. Therefore it is recommended that cookies be disabled in browsers. Unfortunately, many websites will not be rendered correctly because the developers and site owners don’t want to lose the opportunities for profiling their users. The Internet Explorer 6.0 however provides more useful settings to manage cookies. But the potential for growth is high with regard to privacy settings and options, even on later versions of internet Explorer.

For a simple data-configuration, there is the possibility of privacy settings to be imported as a file into the browser. There are various levels of settings that can be fed into the browser and extreme care has to be taken because a poorly written data configuration file means ineffective privacy settings which ultimately can lead to many security issues. The Internet Explorer 6 compatible data configuration file is normally written in XML, thus are easy to understand.

Lack of Cookie Handling Options

In Internet Explorer 6.0, the decision to accept a cookie depends on how the providers want to deal with the data retrieved. It is in fact a machine-readable privacy policy (read by P3P standard) of the provider, and compared with the preferences of the user. Unfortunately, the user’s preferences in Internet Explorer are set in merely six levels. There is only ‘Accept all Cookies’, ‘Reject all cookies’ and four levels in between.

One might assume that at least at the “high security” level, it would make cookies from advertising companies struggle. But this is not the case.In fact cookies are one of the most famous agents accepted without an issue even at the level of “high security”. It is so crucial to assess whether the provider retrieves personal yet sensitive data, like name, address, etc. via cookies. Advertisers claim against it, they say the data is stored in the cookie and never transferred elsewhere and the site just compares the last visited information and settings to display the pages accordingly. This makes perfect sense though, as the sites recognize the users and their settings at their next visit.

Problems in handling cookies are not specific to Internet Explorer 6, but almost all of the browsers lack comprehensive and transparent cookie handling options that enable the users for a pin-point configuration with regard to cookies and privacy settings.