Keywords:Software Engineering, Web cookies
Web cookies have become a pivotal asset for businesses and organisations alike. Their diverse utility ranges from offering personalised user experiences to enabling marketers to ascertain user engagement metrics such as page visits, page visit downtime, and on-site interactions. Such data can grant the website a personalised user experience, which in-turn can develop into monetary gain. Yet, as websites continue to employ varied and more complex cookies, so do the concerns surrounding their ethics and legality. This research contextualises this discussion in an Aotearoa New Zealand context, analysing a list of all .NZ Top-Level-Domains (TLDs), including all related subdomains such as: .org.nz, .govt.nz, .co.nz, and more. To achieve this, existing tools were utilised and a script developed capable of scraping web cookies. This method enabled the extraction and analyses of cookie data from nearly 250,000 NZ TLD websites. Before commencing with the main script, supplementary scripts were incorporated to filter out defunct domains or those flagged as malicious according to the Google Safe Browsing API standards. To deal with the time-consuming nature of cookie scraping, a 10 second time limit was included for each domain, ensuring that the process remains aligned within the project timeline. The results have unveiled intriguing patterns regarding the types of cookies Aotearoa New Zealand businesses employ. These findings can act as a reference point, not just for businesses in Aotearoa New Zealand, but their corresponding user bases. This research not only reveals the current landscape of cookie usage in Aotearoa New Zealand, but can serve as a foundational study for future digital ethics inquiries, policy making, and for businesses seeking to align their practices with known standards while respecting user privacy.