Cookies vs Digital fingerprinting

Two common methods employed for this purpose are cookies and digital fingerprinting. While both techniques aim to collect information about users, they differ in their approaches and implications. In this post, we’ll delve into the distinctions between cookies and digital fingerprinting, shedding light on their functionalities, privacy considerations, and impacts on user control.

 

Cookies

 Fingerprinting

Technology

Is it stored on the user’s device?

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Is it stored on the user’s device?

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Does it create a User-ID?

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Can a hashed or encrypted user-ID be created?

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Track individual user behaviour

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Can it operate without user consent?

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Can it be deleted?

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Work with aggregated or pseudoanonymous information?

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Requires local storage

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User Control

Does user have control to accept or reject to be tracked?

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Provides granular consent options

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Allow the user to opt out of being tracked

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Expiration Date

Can it have an expiration date of 8h?

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Can it have an expiration date of 24h?

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Can it have an expiration date of 48h?

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Can it have an expiration date of more than 8h?

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Fingerprint tracking vs. Traditional Cookies: The Privacy Debate:

The debate between fingerprints and traditional cookies is more than just a technical discussion. It’s a reflection of the broader conversation on digital privacy. While standard cookies offer users some degree of control, allowing them to reject or accept tracking, fingerprint tracking operate more covertly. For e-commerce managers, the decision to use either tracking method should be informed by the potential marketing insights and a commitment to ethical and transparent data practices.

The Ethical Implications of Fingerprinting tracking:

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, marketing managers constantly seek innovative ways to understand user behavior. However, with the advent of fingerprinting tracking, many question the ethical implications of such practices. Unlike traditional cookies, fingerprinting tracking delve deeper into user data, often without explicit consent. For e-commerce managers prioritizing user trust and privacy, such invasive tracking methods can cause concern.

Why E-commerce Managers Should Rethink Fingerprinting Tracking:

Digital fingerprinting, often touted as the next frontier in web analytics, presents a double-edged sword. While it promises granular insights into user behavior, it does so at the cost of user privacy. Fingerprinting tracking operates in the shadows, bypassing traditional consent mechanisms. This lack of transparency can erode trust, a crucial element for any e-commerce platform. For marketing managers aiming to build long-term relationships with their customers, weighing the benefits of such tracking against the potential backlash is essential.

Digital Fingerprinting: A Closer Look.

At first glance, digital fingerprinting might seem like a boon for e-commerce managers. Tracking user behavior without relying on cookies can offer unparalleled insights. However, the invasive nature of digital fingerprinting, which often operates without user knowledge or consent, raises significant ethical and privacy concerns. In an era where consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their digital rights, the use of such covert tracking methods can be detrimental to brand reputation

 

Additional Considerations

Private Browsing and Incognito Mode:
Users who employ private browsing modes, such as incognito mode, may not be tracked using cookies. However, digital fingerprinting can still be used to track their online activity, as it does not rely on browser storage.

Ad Blockers:
Ad blockers can interfere with cookie tracking, but they do not affect digital fingerprinting. This means that even with an ad blocker enabled, websites can still use digital fingerprinting to track user behavior.

Browser Fingerprint and Device Fingerprinting:
Digital fingerprinting is often referred to as browser fingerprinting, as it is based on the unique combination of browser settings and device attributes. Device fingerprinting is a broader term that encompasses digital fingerprinting, as it involves tracking devices rather than just browsers.

Tracking People and Online Activity:
Both cookies and digital fingerprinting can be used to track people across different websites they visit. However, digital fingerprinting can track online activity more comprehensively than cookies, as it does not rely on browser storage.

IP Address and Online Tracking:
Digital fingerprinting can also include the user’s IP address as part of the unique identifier, which can be used to track their online activity across different devices and networks.By understanding the differences between cookies and digital fingerprinting, you can make informed decisions about how to balance user privacy with the need for targeted marketing and analytics. It is crucial to prioritize user trust and transparency, while also considering the business requirements and technological advancements in the digital landscape.

Conclusion:

As observed in the table, both technologies are very similar. They both create a user ID, which can be hashed or not, to measure individual user behavior. The MAJOR difference is that cookies operate from the user’s device, whereas digital fingerprinting does not. However, the requirement of inserting cookies into the user’s device grants the user the authority to reject cookies. On the other hand, with digital fingerprinting technology, the user does not have that option.

The “cookie” has been demonized, but in reality, we find that digital fingerprinting technology works very similarly to cookies. However, the key difference lies in the fact that users cannot indicate that they do not want to be tracked with digital fingerprinting as they can with cookies.

 
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If you’re noticing a decline in traffic within your web analytics tools, it isn’t necessarily because of GDPR or ePrivacy Regulations, nor is it due to the cookie banner. The reason is that users do not want to be tracked and are opposed to cookie placement