Small eye, White box, and a Red X?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Recall --

Last week, Anne from Canada told me of a very strange problem with her computer:

" ... Sometimes there is an image under the email page, or Internet page, and it has a small eye with a white box and a red X in it. It annoys me, and I try to get rid of it ... It's not always there for long, and then disappears. Any ideas? "

My Response:

I haven't experienced this problem before, so I asked Gazette Readers for help. Many Readers wrote in to tell me that they also have the same predicament, while others provided some very insightful information. Wendall J. put it very simply:

" The small eye indicates that you have a privacy report. It is nothing malicious. Double click it and you will receive a privacy report related to the site you are visiting. It will show you what you have restricted such as cookies and other items. "

Side note: A cookie is a file that holds tracking information about a web site you've visited. Cookies are written to your computer through the web browser you use (for example: Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc). Not all cookies are bad: some web sites use cookies to "remember you" the next time you login to a web site.

On the other hand, third party cookies are tagged onto your computer with an affiliate ID number for the purpose of a commissioned sale. For example: Let's say you visited, and a link you clicked on caused you to be redirected to another web site, called If you purchase a product online, the owner of may receive a commissioned sale (through a cookie) for having directed you to

Ed Z. writes:

" The small eye in the white box is a security warning from Internet Explorer warning that there are cookies at the site you are visiting and IE is blocking the cookies per your settings. When there is a red X, it means you are not blocking any cookies or private info. To check the settings click Start, Control Panel, Internet settings, Security. "

Side note: Regarding Ed's comment and based on what other Gazette Readers have said, it is my understanding that the "eye" will go away if the Security level is lowered. This won't endanger your system in any way, but the unscrupulous marketing cookies will not be blocked. One way around to clear out the "bad cookies" is to use a Spyware cleaner program.

James P. from Hillsborough, NJ provided an excellent description of the Security settings in IE 6. He writes:

" I got this off the net... ' A little icon in the status bar which looks like it has a bad case of red eye will alert you any time a site tries to use a cookie that contravenes your settings. It's the Privacy Report icon, and you can double-click it to learn the details of all cookies set by the site and gain access to your privacy settings. MSIE [Microsoft Internet Explorer] 6.0 ships with a 'Medium' threshold for handling cookies, which thereby blocks any third-party cookies that lack a digital P3P privacy policy. If a cookie is blocked, a red eye appears on the user's PC screen. When you click the eye, a box opens that says 'privacy report' but doesn't say why the cookie has been blocked. Microsoft says it is doing this to engender consumer trust of its Internet-based services. If you have frequent problems with web sites, you can lower your browser's threshold for cookie acceptance, or ask the webmasters to fix their sites. "

Thanks to all who wrote in!

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