Cookies help you and website owners to:
- Make website work as you'd expect
- Save you having to login every time you visit the site
- Remember your settings during and between visits
- Improve the speed/security of the site
- Allow you to share pages with social networks like Facebook
- Continuously improve the website to improve the visitor experience
- Collect any personal information (without your express permission)
- Collect any sensitive information (without your express permission)
- Pass data to advertising networks
- Pass personally identifiable data to third parties
You can learn more about cookies below:
What are Cookies?
Cookies are files that websites place on visitors' PCs to store information, usually specific to that visitor - or rather the device they are using to view the site - like the browser or mobile phone.
Cookies were created to overcome website limitations. Web pages are ‘dumb’, they have no memory and cannot easily pass information from page to page. So cookies are a way to provide a memory for web pages.
Cookies allow you to login to one page on a website and then move to other pages whilst remaining logged in. They allow you as the visitor to set your preferences for the display of a page, and for these to be remembered when you return.
Cookies can also track the pages you visit between sites, which allows advertisers to build up a profile and record your interests. In this way, when you land on a site that shows one of their adverts - they can tailor the ad to match your interests.
The vast majority of cookies are totally innocent, very few collect any personal information, and in many cases the information they do gather is only used whilst you are on the site and is then forgotten.
As explained below perhaps the best example used for very good reasons by a substantial percentage of all websites is Google Analytics – this tracks visitor numbers, where they came from, which pages were visited, how long was spent on each page and the like.
Clearly it would be commercial madness to run a website without some form of Analytics, so if you want to use the internet you have little option but to accept that cookies will be used.
Types of Cookies
First Party Cookies
One of the key elements of a cookie is the host domain of the site that sets the cookie, (the domain name), and therefore is picked up again on the next and subsequent visit. If the host name is the same as the domain in the browser address bar when it is set or retrieved, then it is a First Party Cookie.
Third Party Cookies
If the host domain for a cookie is not the same as the one in the browser bar when it was downloaded, these are referred to as third party cookie. Third party cookies are frequently used in conjunction with display ads shown on multiple sites. When you visit a site displaying that company's adverts, their cookies, are set and retrieved. This allows advertisers to 'track' the websites visited - and by inference build up an understanding of what visitors are interested in.
Session Cookies are temporarily and are destroyed when the browser session ends, although they will survive navigating away from the website they came from. If you login to a website every time visit a site - it is using a session cookie to record your login details.
This type of cookie is saved on the visitors computer so when you leave and return it will still be present. All persistent cookies have an expiry date, when it expires, it will be destroyed. If the expiry date isn’t set, or is in the past, then it’s a session cookie.
There is no useful limit on an expiry date - it could be 25 years from the date of the first visit. If you return to the website, you will receive an updated version with a revised future expiry date, e.g. still 25 years from the subsequent visit.
If when you return to a site having shut down your computer to find you are still logged in - it is using a persistent cookie to remember you.
Persistent cookies can be used to track visitor behaviour as they navigate around a site. This data can be used to understand what visitors like and don't like about a site so it can be improved. This practice is known as Web Analytics. Ever since Google started providing Google Analytics free of charge, almost all websites use some form of it, (either that or paid for alternatives).
Analytics cookies are probably the most common form of persistent cookies in use today.
Secure cookies are transmitted via HTTPS - which you will typically find in the checkout pages of online shopping sites. They ensure that data in the cookie is encrypted when it passes between the websites and browsers.
HTTP Only Cookies
Further information can be found at: