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I have tried viewing cookies in my Chrome settings, but I don't see any human-readable data about my browsing. Most of what I have read stops at telling me how to view and delete cookies without explaining how to get meaningful information from them.

Can session cookies be monitored in real-time?

Can the persistent cookie data that is sent to a specific site at a specific time be logged?

Is there a straightforward way to translate to cookie information into human-readable data? Or at least to infer with reasonable confidence which cookies are related to what information?

Ideally what I would like would be an app or script that compiles data on what information is being sent to which sites into a text or csv file. Ideally, the browser info and other information in the cookies would be translated into plain English names. Does such a thing exist and if not, what would it take to make it?

closed as too broad by DavidPostill May 12 at 11:49

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The tracking cookies usually do not carry a human-readable content on purpose - exactly as to make what you want impossible.

Most tracking cookies carry only a unique identifier, that is collated with other data only on the server side, leaving the user-visible side with as little information as possible. Indeed even the fact, that such a cookie has been sent to a special server is of only little value, as many servers are set up to not parse the tracking cookies but to proxy them somewhere else.

Tracking companies want to avoid two things:

  • You knowing how far that tracking goes
  • Other tracking companies to be able to use data from "their" cookie

Both these ambitions make them include as little information as possibel inside the cookie, but instead make the cookie only a pointer to a dataset on the server.

  • Is there any useful information that could be inferred from the times that the unique identifier is sent? Is it possible to know with certainty which elements in which sites are requesting the cookie? Would keeping statistics on this help to rank websites as more and less promiscuous? Also, could data from many users be aggregated in order to guess who the proxy servers belong to? – Stonecraft May 12 at 11:31
  • That depends on the implementation of the tracking system. If it is well-designed, every unique ID will be sent only once. – Eugen Rieck May 12 at 12:58

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