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Short text file containing user information which a website's computer stores in the user's computer, often without the user's knowledge or permission. Among other uses, honest online firms employ cookies to recognize a revisiting user, welcome him or her with a greeting, and to custom tailor their content to suit the user's preferences. How long a cookie remains stored in the user's computer depends on the browser settings. Modern browsers allow the user to choose the cookies the websites want to download to their computers. While most cookies (such as the 'shopping cart' used in online purchases) are useful, they have a potential for serious misuse.
Some firms are known to use cookies for snooping on the users' computing and surfing habits, and selling that information to marketers in violation of the users' privacy rights.

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