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Google could ditch cookies and give us more control too

Google is considering ditching cookies for an alternative way of tracking our online comings and goings.

Like Cookie Monster deciding cookies are "a sometime food", Google is considering ditching cookies for an alternative way of tracking our online comings and goings.

The search engine and online advertising giant is reportedly considering creating an anonymous identifier for each and every one of us that could record our browsing, shopping habits and preferences across the whole Internet.

Google is already the biggest player in the $120bn online advertising business, and as such has the clout to implement personal identifiers -- which could in turn make the Big G even more dominant, as advertisers would be forced to come to Google for data on consumers rather than collecting it piecemeal themselves through cookies.

An Internet-wide personal identifier would create a more complete picture of a specific user, all in one place. Currently, cookies are placed on separate websites and can't combine data on your activity.

So that's what's in it for Google and the advertisers. What about us, the average schmucks who they rely on to actually buy their tat?

Cookie crumbs 

The good news is that personal identifiers could give us more control of our own data. Instead of leaving a trail of cookie crumbs across the Web, we'd be able to control our privacy and data in one place.

That depends on how they're implemented, however. Advertisers are resistant to anything that limits the data they can track, which means discussions of self-regulation in the US are struggling.

Currently, Google's Chrome browser does not block cookies. Mozilla's Firefox has a Do Not Track option to stop cookies collecting data as you browse. And Apple blocks cookies in the Safari browser, using its own personal identifier. Google got in trouble for sneaking cookies into Safari a couple of years ago, earning the company a record fine.

One final thought: did you know the Cookie Monster's real name is Sid? Well it is. Are cookies important to the Internet economy or a deplorable invasion of privacy? Is sacrificing a degree of privacy the price of using the Web for free? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or track us on our Facebook wall.