What is a Cookie?
A cookie is data stored by a website in a browser, which is sent back to the website by the browser. They are a way for websites to remember things and are used for both functional reasons and tracking reasons.
What are functional reasons for using a Cookie?
What are the tracking reasons for using a Cookie?
- Some companies use tracking or performance cookies to find out how people are using their website. The most common cookies used for this purpose are Google Analytics cookies. This information can be used for a variety of reasons, including:
- Finding out how many people visit a site to make sure the bandwidth you have can cope with the number of visitors you expect to get.
- Finding out which web browsers and devices people are using to make sure their website is suitable for a majority of users.
- Understanding how people use the website to make improvements for website users and resolve any problems quickly.
- Some companies use this information for marketing and revenue purposes e.g. telling potential advertisers how many people visit their website or using it to develop their own advertising and marketing campaigns.
Are cookies dangerous?
No. Cookies can’t be used to spread computer viruses or malware. The concerns about cookies are to do with privacy.
What is the Cookie Directive?
The Cookie Directive is a law that requires all business websites to disclose which cookies they use, and explicitly gain permission to use them from you website visitors. In May 2011 the Cookie Directive became law and applies to all European countries including the UK. UK business websites must be compliant by 26th May 2012 (that’s this Saturday) or you might face a fine.
We have listed all four categories for your information.
1. Strictly necessary cookies
These cookies are essential in order to enable you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies services you have asked for, like shopping baskets or e-billing, cannot be provided.
NB these cookies enable services you have specifically asked for.
2. Performance cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don’t collect information that identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works.
NB: these cookies collect anonymous information on the pages visited.
3. Functionality cookies
These cookies allow the website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced, more personal features. For instance, a website may be able to provide you with local weather reports or traffic news by storing in a cookie the region in which you are currently located.
These cookies can also be used to remember changes you have made to text size, fonts and other parts of web pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you have asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. The information these cookies collect may be anonymised and they cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
NB: these cookies remember choices you make to improve your experience.
4. Targeting cookies or advertising cookies
Notice for users
These cookies are used to deliver adverts more relevant to you and your interests they are also used to limit the number of times you see an advertisement as well as help measure the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. 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. Quite often targeting or advertising cookies will be linked to site functionality provided by the other organisation.
NB these cookies collect information about your browsing habits in order to make advertising relevant to you and your interests.