Why are cookies used in a website?

why are cookies used in a website

If we start with what a cookie is and what cookies are used for; A computer “cookie” is more formally known as an HTTP cookie, a web cookie, an Internet cookie, or a browser cookie. The name is a shorter version of “magic cookie,” which is a term for a packet of data that a computer receives and then sends back without changing or altering the data.

No matter what it’s called, a computer cookie contains your information. When you visit a website, the website sends the cookie to your computer. Your computer stores it in a file located inside your device’s memory. (To help you find it, this file is often called “Cookies.”).

When you visit any website through the web browser, the site will upload cookies to your Cache memory. These cookies remember that you have visited the site before and store other relevant information relating to your web browser searches, web pages visited your device, your location etc. The most common question that people ask is, why do websites use cookies, and what cookies are used for?

The short answer is that the websites will be monitoring your behaviour on the particular website. It will notice which products you are looking for, what products you are purchasing, and other essential information, such as web pages viewed, etc. So, whenever you will visit the website again then the website will show you the recommended and related results.

Most types of cookies are what are called Session cookies. Session cookies only remain on your device for the time you are using the website, hence the title session cookies. Other cookies remain on your device for longer periods, the longest we have found is 999 years?

How do Cookies Work?

Well, how does a cookie work? this is one of the common questions that people ask, CookieScan has looked very closely at this and can explain how they work?

Using an example of an online store, when you visit the online store website for the first time, the website uploads a cookie or cookies into your device. These will be session cookies or types of cookies with an expiration date.

These cookies, which are small files hay contain various amounts of information about your internet of things usage. They send this information to the site owner so they can use the information to send you advertising, improve the way their site works, improve the page layouts etc. Some other sites that use a pixel, which is the same technology as a cookie will record the search terms you have used on your search engine. You will then get directed advertising on that exact topic.

Test this out by searching for a random item, but be careful what you look for? see how long it is before you get an advert for the item.

4 Reasons Why Websites Use Cookies

We have already mentioned some of the essential information about cookies but if you are still confused about how websites use cookies, here are some important points,

  1. If you search for something on the internet, and allow their cookies then for the next few months you will see similar adverts on websites, this is mainly happening because of cookies.
  2. A cookie can remember your log-in details (not your password) and help you to log in the next time you visit the site.
  3. Cookies will remember your preferences, language, font size theme etc. They will even remember what you have put into your shopping basket, so can be very handy.
  4. For the website owner cookies help them understand how many visits the website has had, any unique visitors, devices used, pages seen, and how long you spent on a page and your location.

These are some of the essential reasons why websites use cookies

Why are Website Cookies Intrusive?

We have outlined some of the benefits of cookies but they are also intrusive to your privacy. First-party cookies are set by the website owner and help you to have a good experience when you visit the site. The intrusive cookies are the third-party cookies and pixels. These cookies record your search terms and send you directed marketing. They learn what you like to look at, purchase on ecommerce sites and preferences when on the sites.

If you allow these types of cookies, you can expect to be targeted with products you have searched for, bought in the past, or even read about in an article published on the internet.

In 2017 Apple and Firefox updated their web browsers to block third-party cookies by default. It is for the browser user to turn this feature off and allow these types of cookies through. Google is planning on blocking these cookies from chrome, but not giving the feature to tune them back on, so completely banning third-party cookies from their browser. Considering they have 80% of the market, goodbye third cookies.

Why do Websites ask for Consent for Cookies?

The simple answer is, they have to. The ePrivacy Regulation in the EU and PECR in the UK states that clear, informed consent must be given before any non-essential cookie is uploaded to a device. on-essential cookies are cookies not needed to be in place for the normal operation of the website you are visiting. So cookies that record your language settings, your shopping basket etc, but it is up to the data controller, or website owner to decide and justify what they consider essential for the website.

What Happens if you don’t give consent cookies?

If you decide to decline consent for non-essential cookies, you will still get access to the website and see what it is about. Some sites say that your experience may be disrupted by not accepting cookies, but that is for you to decide. What they cannot do is refuse you access to the site or some of the features the site offers. Consent cannot be a condition of use.

What can CookieScan do for me as a website owner?

CookieScan is your complete cookie management system, taking control of all your legal requirements under the ePrivacy Regulation and PECR. Firstly CookieScan will scan your site and identify all the cookies used, first party and third party. Once this is done, CookieScan will create a Cookie Notice.

The Identified cookies are then placed into categories. These categories are,

  • Necessary
  • Preference
  • Marketing
  • Statistics
  • Unclassified

Necessary cookies or essential cookies do not require you to collect consent from the site users. These cookies are always on and uploaded to the users’ device. Necessary cookies are the cookies needed to run the functionality of the site. As the site owner, you are responsible to justify the use of necessary cookies. CookieScan will give you the ability to move the cookies into the category you believe is more appropriate. A note of caution, because CookieScan blocks from a domain level, you will also move the other cookies from that same domain.

CookieScan gives you the option of three banners to display on your site. There is also a Geo-Location feature so the correct banner will be displayed to comply with the cookie laws according to the country where the site is being viewed.

The user is asked to consent to the required cookies, is given a simple description of the cookies function, who provided the cookie, and how long it will be displayed on the device, for example, a session cookie.

You can change the colour settings of the CookieScan banner to match the colour theme of your site. CookieScan is also the only cookie management system to allow the site user to enforce one of their data privacy rights like submit a data subject access request. This will show your commitment to compliance and your accountability to data protection rights.

CookieScan will take your compliance worries away and help you to stay on the right side of the law.

What will CookieScan do for me as a website user?

As a website user, CookieScan will look after your rights and your privacy. By telling you about all the cookies the website uses, what they do, who wants to put them on your device and how long they will stay there. CookieScan gives you a clear ‘Reject all’ or an ‘Accept All’ choice to the cookies used, setting them all off as a default.

CookieScan has recently added a data rights function. You can now enforce one of your data protection rights and contact the website owners directly, submitting a data subject access request, object to processing, ask for data to be corrected, and so on. CookieScan is the first to offer this and combine both the data protection laws and the ePrivacy Regulations, or your own local laws.

Once submitted the website owner will put in place their own processes to allow you to enforce your rights, CookieScan just gives you an easy way to start the ball rolling.

Ensure your website is PECR and ePrivacy compliant

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