We share your concerns about Internet privacy and security. In fact, privacy and security are our primary focus in the design of our website. When compared to the alternatives, we strongly feel that a First Party Cookie along with strong 128 bit encryption is the best way to permit on-line shopping to occur on the Internet.
Many e-commerce websites can not work without cookies. There is a very simple reason for this: the Internet is a “stateless” form of communication - it has no memory - transactions are not possible unless a means is provided to tie a series of page requests together. What this means is that without cookies (or Query Strings – see below), every request for a page from a website is treated as if it came from a brand new visitor to the website. There would be no way to maintain a shopping cart since every time you wanted to look at your cart it would be empty. The website would have no way to tell that you had previously added something to your shopping cart. A cookie is just a simple and secure method of tying the sequence of page requests together in order to complete a transaction. When you log out from our website (by clicking the “Log Out” link in left side menu), the cookie that identifies you by your customer number is deleted from your computer. With cookies, you have control over how long this information stays on your computer. You can set your browser’s security settings to delete cookies upon closing your browser if you want to. In essence, this would log you off, without even having to click the “Log Out” button.
There is an alternate method of maintaining a continuous visitor session without cookies, but in our opinion, it is not a good solution for anyone concerned with Internet privacy. This alternate method involves passing identifying information along with every page request within the URL (Uniform Resource Locator - the address of the page) in what is called a Query String. You may have noticed something like this behind the main part of the URL in the address bar of your browser when visiting some websites: “?CID=23AF60C39F23&Session=B48D9678AF34”. This can be a poor alternative to cookies. Having this information in the URL is much more public than a cookie. Anyone looking at your computer screen can see them. These URLs which may contain or be linked to personally identifying information, are saved in your browser history and if you were to bookmark any page during your visit, you would be permanently saving this information on your computer. Logging off would not delete it from either area. Furthermore, if you were to email the URL containing the query string to a friend or perhaps even post it on a public message board, some websites may think that anyone clicking on that link is you! There are methods available to minimize this risk, but you have no way of knowing if the website has utilized those methods.
Therefore, we feel that First Party Cookies (not to be confused with 3rd party cookies) are the best way to allow e-commerce to occur. Without either Cookies or Query Strings, all on-line shopping and much other Internet functionality would be impossible.
If you are concerned with Internet privacy and spy ware, you may want to check out www.bugnosis.org. From this website, you can download a program that monitors the websites that you visit and lets you know if they are doing anything that you should be concerned about. Bugnosis gives our website an excellent score but you may be surprised to find out what is going on beneath the surface of many other popular websites! You can also visit our privacy page for more information.
We are dedicated to protecting your privacy when using our website. If you have any comments or concerns about our privacy policies, please let us know.