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HTTP Cookies: Standards, Privacy, And Politics

D. Kristol
Published 2001 · Computer Science

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How did we get from a world where cookies were something you ate and where "nontechies" were unaware of "Netscape cookies" to a world where cookies are a hot-button privacy issue for many computer users? This article describes how HTTP "cookies" work and how Netscape's original specification evolved into an IETF Proposed Standard. I also offer a personal perspective on how what began as a straightforward technical specification turned into a political flashpoint when it tried to address nontechnical issues such as privacy.
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