So, what is a cookie and what does it do?
Cookies are small files which are stored on a user’s computer or mobile device. Cookies are a convenient way to carry information from one session on a website to another, or between sessions on related websites, without having to burden a server machine with massive amounts of data storage.
Cookies are used by most websites and mostly to do with the technical operation of the website. However, they are also used to monitor how people are using the website, such as which pages are visited and how long is spent on each page. Each “visitor session” is tracked even though no effort is made to try to identify them in person.
Are cookies safe?
Naturally, there is concern about privacy and security on the internet. Cookies do not in themselves present a threat to privacy, since they can only be used to store information that the user has volunteered or that the web server already has. Furthermore, because the data in a cookie doesn’t change when it travels back and forth, it has no way to affect how your computer runs.
Types of cookies
Cookies fall into four main categories:
- Strictly Necessary Cookies: These cookies are essential to enable you to move around a website and use its features. These cookies don’t gather information about you that could be used for marketing or remembering where you have been on the internet. Your consent is not needed to use this type of cookie and they cannot generally be disabled.
- Performance Cookies: These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website (e.g. what pages they go to most often). The information these cookies collect is aggregated and is, therefore, anonymous. Such cookies are only used to improve how a website works.
- Functionality Cookies: These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced, more personal features. They can also be used to remember changes that you have made to text size and fonts.
- Advertising Cookies: These cookies are used to delivery adverts more relevant to you and your interests. They are also used to limit the number of times you see an advertisement. They are usually placed by advertising networks with the website operator’s permission. They remember that you have visited a website and this information is shared with other organisations, such as advertisers.
Cookies are also categorised as:
- Session cookies are cookies which are deleted when you finish browsing a website (and are not stored on your computer longer than this);
- Persistent cookies are cookies which continue to be stored on your device after you have finished using a website, so that the website provider can remember your preferences the next time you use it;
- “first party” or “third party” cookies. First party cookies are cookies set by the website you have browsed (i.e. the website displayed in the uniform resource locator (URL) window). Third party cookies are cookies set by a website other than the one you are browsing.
What cookies does our website use?
Our website uses Google Analytics cookies. Information collected by Google Analytics cookies will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States of America in accordance with its privacy practices. To see an overview of privacy at Google and how this applies to Google Analytics, please click here.
Other than “Strictly Necessary Cookies”, which are essential for the functioning of our website, if you do not wish to accept all of the cookies used on our website, you can set your internet browser settings to reject, restrict or block some or all of the cookies we use.
Every browser gives you a range of options for enabling or deleting cookies. Internet Explorer, for instance, allows you to manage cookies under “Privacy” and “Advanced.” In Chrome, find where cookies are stored as outlined above, then select your management options under “Cookies.”
Banning all browser cookies could make navigating our (and other) website difficult. However, a setting that controls or limits third-party and tracking cookies can help protect your privacy while still making it possible to shop online and carry out similar activities.