In other cases, the page itself contains a script that aligns with the data present in the web cookie and so it is capable of transferring the information from one website to another relevant website or page.
What information do cookies store?
A web cookie is a small file stored on the user’s computer. Depending on the browser, this may be stored as individual cookies for each website, or with browsers such as internet explorer or Firefox, the cookie may be stored as a single file.
By storing information in the website cookie, it can improve the user’s experience of the website, by storing useful website settings such as:
- The location of the user
- Their preferred language
- Preferred colour scheme
- Preferred homepage layout
So, cookies allow the user to access individual websites customised to their preferences, by storing in the cookie file their previous settings.
Typically, the information cookies may store, which often is not relevant to the user’s experience include a range of details that can easily identify an individual and therefore is classified as personal data, this could include:
- Mobile or telephone number
- Date of birth
The information can only be stored in the cookie if you have provided the details to the website. The information in the cookie cannot be obtained directly from your computer.
Creating a cookie
When a user accesses a website, the website looks for an existing cookie file. If the cookie is located on the user’s device, it can be used to provide the user with customized website experience. If the cookie for the website does not exist, there will be no information about the user. The website will then identify the visitor as a first time user. It can also happen if the user clears their cookies since their last visit to the website. When a cookie is created or updated, users are unaware that this process is taking place; it is a process that automatically occurs in the background.
However, with all web browsers, you can change the settings to have better control of cookies by:
- Ensuring the browser always asks for confirmation before allowing a cookie to be created or updated via a cookie consent banner
- Deleting all cookies as soon as the web browser is closed
- Fetching personal information of the user
- Getting consent from the user via a cookie consent banner
- Improving the user experience on the website
- Advertise products or services relevant to the user’s interests
- Streamline their on-page experiences based on their particular interests
GDPR and cookies
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides updated regulations to:
- Protect the personal information of individuals
- How personal information can be used by businesses
- Individual Rights of the users
- What kind of consent is required to acquire or use personal data?
A cookie gathers data about the user through their device and falls under the umbrella of personal data, hence the reason why cookies are such a key element of the GDPR. It is essential that businesses fully understand how their website stores the personal data of visitors to their website. GDPR guidelines must be followed because there are substantial GDPR fines for non-compliance.
Can cookies slow down your computer?
Slowing productivity is always a concern for individuals and businesses alike. Cookie creation and cookie updates have little or no effect on the performance of your computer, as very little information is stored in the cookie.