And speaking of anonymity, we got a provocative comment on our Web site about this series The End of Privacy. Listener Michael Robinson of Knoxville, Tennessee made this observation: How very ironic that Martin Kaste's story about online privacy is posted on NPR's Web site which is embedded with seven tracking cookies from marketing and behavioral targeting companies.

Well, we've called on Kinsey Wilson to help explain. He's NPR's senior vice president of digital media. And Kinsey, Mr. Robinson mentions,, five others. Explain for us first what a cookie is, please.

KINSEY WILSON: The first thing to know about a cookie is it is indeed anonymous, doesn't contain any personally identifiable information. It's really a bit of text that remembers an action that you performed on the site, so when you come back the next time, that information is there and it's easy to navigate the site.

BLOCK: Why would NPR use them then?

WILSON: If you log into the site so that you can put comments on the site, for example, it would use a cookie to remember your login so that you don't have to enter that information each time you come back.

BLOCK: Michael Robinson seems to have some real privacy concerns about these cookies, Kinsey, do you think those concerns are legitimate?

WILSON: The way we try to address those concerns is being completely transparent about how we use this information and how cookies are used on the site. Different users are going to have a different threshold for what information they want stored about their behavior on the Internet. For some, it's convenience. For others, they see it as an intrusion. We try to be clear about that and at the end of the day, the user can turn off cookies completely and not use them if that's their preference.

BLOCK: Okay, Kinsey, thanks very much.


BLOCK: Kinsey Wilson is senior vice president of digital media here at NPR. Thanks for all your comments, whether they're posted at or sent to us by clicking on the link that says Contact Us.

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