With Apple's latest iOS update, the humble cookie is once again at the center of a debate between web advertisers and privacy advocates.
The newest software version drastically cuts down on the number and type of cookies that advertisers can install on your device. The move will likely threaten the very core of their business model so they are understandably in a panic over how they can continue to track and profit off of consumers.
Generally speaking, internet cookies are a good thing. They are tiny files that websites place on your computer or device to keep track of items in an online shopping cart or to remember your identity and keep you logged in after you return to a website.
Apple's issue with cookies is the way some modern advertising agencies have begun using them. Rather than just installing a cookie for the sake of convenience, some third-party advertisers are using cookies that follow you around and show you ads based on the contents of your shopping cart.
Facebook's "Like" button will also be impacted by the change. After the update, the social network will no longer know what articles you are reading. Apple will continue to allow the standard shopping cart cookie, but some of the ones that follow you around to show targeted ads will get the axe.
In a bid to keep their business model profitable, some advertisers are looking at less conventional methods of tracking users. There are reports of companies experimenting with using your device's battery life, the ambient light in your room and even your conversations to track you. The impact will be similar to when ad-blocking extensions first became popular.
For those that don't have Apple devices but still want to protect their privacy, the EFF has a great list of browser privacy extensions.