Table of contents


What are cookies?

To keep it simple, a cookie is a small file of letters and numbers which are downloaded on to your computer, this occurs when you open the majority of websites due to the core role cookies have today, as they help websites remember important information about you. Without using cookies, websites would have a harder time keeping track of your inputs and personal preferences.

Cookies carry and store data on the interactions you have with a website. An example of this would be allowing you to add a product to a shopping cart and keeping it there for when you return to browse the website, so that they can improve upon the overall user-experience by enabling improved usability (like dark mode for nighttime reading) and most important of all, for login authentication, without cookies you would be forced to log in all the time.

Should I remove cookies from my computer?

Cookies operate in the background, so they're not likely to cause you any obvious issues, however, there are certainly sometimes where you might want to delete them. Sometimes the cached data in cookies can conflict with the website they were used for reasons such as if the webpage has been updated, resulting in issues when you try to browse the webpage again.

Also, since cookies are actual files stored on your computer or mobile device, they will start taking up some space on your hard disk drive, and even though cookie-files are only a few kilobytes in size, they can begin to add-up if left untouched for long enough.

Lastly, these cookies are storing your personal data and if you're at all interested in maintaining some sort of anonymity when browsing online, the last thing you want is a long record of your browsing activity following you around influencing your browsing experience. It's for this reason we recommend clearing your browser cache and not just your cookies every few months, but be aware that this can cause you to lose some saved information (e.g. saved login details, website preferences)

The different types of cookies

There are three types of web cookies: session cookies, persistent cookies and third-party cookies. These different types of cookie-files have varying purposes.

About session cookies

Session cookies help you navigate through websites by remembering your actions and user preferences, and they expire as soon as you exit out of a website.

A good example of how session cookies are helpful is with e-commerce websites such as Amazon. When you’re shopping online, you can check-out at any time. That's because session cookies track your actions. Without these cookies, whenever you'd go to checkout, your shopping cart would be empty.

About persistent cookies

Persistent cookies work by tracking your specific user-preferences on individual websites. When you visit a website for the first time, you will be using the default settings. But if you decide to personalise the website to fit your individual preferences for a better user-experience, persistent cookies will remember those specific preferences for the next time you visit the website. This is how computers and mobile devices keep track of and store your login information, language and contrast preferences, bookmarks and more.

Persistent cookies are also commonly known as permanent cookies, this is due to the long duration of time they are usually stored on your hard disk. The cookie’s lifespan will vary depending on the expiration date set by the website's developer.

Generally, website developers add a long lifespan to these cookies so that their website's users can make the most of their individual website preferences and prevent frustrating them with constantly having to redo their user-preferences.

Eventually, when the cookie's expiration date is reached, the cookie will then be deleted automatically, along with your user-preferences for the website that the persistent cookie came from.

About third-party cookies

Third-party cookies, also referred to as tracking cookies, collect data based on your online behaviour. When you visit a website, third-party cookies collect various types of data which is then either passed on or sold to advertisers by the website you visited.

These cookies track your specific bits about you, such as your interests, location, age and anything else they can find out about you which is useful for marketers so that they can present you with advertisements tailored for you.

By tracking your browsing habits and providing targeted advertisements, third-party cookies serve a useful purpose for marketers and users but they can also be considered an invasion of privacy. This is also why you now have the option to block or opt-out of them on most websites you visit.

The concerns regarding cookies

Although cookies can only be accessed by the website that created them on your computer, there are still many ways for cookies to be shared between websites. This means that some companies can track a user across the internet. The most common occurrence of this is found within advertising platforms that use cookies to build a profile about you so that they can provide you with personalised ad results whether you want them to or not.

Laws and regulations

On May 26th 2011, new rules governing the use of cookies by websites came into force for countries within the European Union which had wide-reaching effects.

If a website uses site-specific cookies, it requires a dedicated cookie notice page (it must not simply link to the general cookie notice page), listing all first- and third-party cookies with information on their purpose, type of data collected, stored or transmitted by cookies, data retention period, and their legal basis. The page must also provide means for consent management.

Exemptions

In line with Article 5(3) of the ePrivacy Directive, consent is not required for technical storage or access of the following cookies:

  • cookies used for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication
  • cookies that are strictly necessary in order for the provider of an information society service explicitly required by the user to provide that service

Examples of cookies that generally do not require consent:

  • user-input cookies, for the duration of a session
  • authentication cookies, for the duration of a session
  • user-centric security cookies used to detect authentication abuses and linked to the functionality explicitly requested by the user, for a limited persistent duration
  • multimedia content player session cookies, such as flash player cookies, for the duration of a session
  • load-balancing session cookies and other technical cookies, for the duration of a session
  • user interface customisation cookies, for a browser session or a few hours, when additional information in a prominent location is provided (e.g. “uses cookies” written next to the customisation feature)

How to avoid being tracked

If you'd like to reduce your online presence as much as possible when browsing online, read through the privacy section of the managing cookies guide for your specific web browser. This is where we provide our recommendations for browser add-ons and plugins which are trustworthy and great at what they do. Overall we recommend choosing a web browser that puts your privacy first such as Brave or includes "do not track" options such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, this can also save you a lot of time and effort. Social media platforms are some of the biggest trackers of your personal browsing experience so make sure to logout when you aren't actively using them.

Who created cookies and why

Web cookies were invented by Internet pioneer Lou Montulli in 1994, whilst he was working on the Netscape browser. Netscape was trying to make websites become viable for commercial businesses.

The problem was at the time that websites were not very good at customer relations. In an ordinary shop at the mall or on the high street, the shop owners can see shoppers coming in, identify their clientele, watch out suspicious people and get a general gist for whether the visitors are locals or tourists, likely buyers or just window shoppers.

Websites simply had no way of collecting this information as everyone was an anonymous visitor. Without cookies or some other tracking technology, websites are blind, so it shouldn't come as a shock as to why cookies have such an importance for websites today. They've simply become a big part in the way that the web works.

Instructions for website developers

To help comply with the laws and regulations regarding cookie usage, you may want to consider linking to this webpage to help educate your website's users about cookies. You are free to use the text/code below and modify it according to your needs.

To find out more about cookies, including how to see what cookies 
have been set and how to manage or delete them, visit:
<a href="https://knowcookies.com/" title="learn about cookies">KnowCookies.com</a>.

Reasons you should care

Gone are the days of aboutcookies.org and cookiecentral.com! If your privacy policy or cookie banner is still linking to these websites you are purely doing a disservice to your website's users. The aforementioned websites are not mobile-friendly and with more than 50% of all website traffic being from mobile devices this is just bad for everyone involved. They also show no signs of ever updating their content nor do they include guides for managing cookies on web browsers with growing market shares.

Why KnowCookies.com?

  1. It's easy to navigate including for people with disabilities/use screen readers.
  2. There is no user-tracking and we have no plans whatsoever to add any.
  3. No advertisements at all. We're an information resource without any added distractions.
  4. This website is fully functional without the use of Javascript for privacy-minded folk (this is a pure HTML/CSS website).
  5. For those with poor internet, this website is available for offline browsing/viewing through the usage of service workers.
  6. Our guides are for only maintained web browsers (so no internet explorer) with the reasoning that only maintained web browsers should be used as a safety precaution when browsing.
  7. We have every intention to keep it updated for those that depend on us.
  8. This website is hosted on a content delivery network to ensure not only a good uptime but also a quick loading time for the users that come visit us to learn about cookies from your privacy policy or cookie banner.

Get involved! Help translate this website into another language or send this email template to the webmasters of your favourite websites that are still linking to outdated websites concerning cookies. If you have any questions regarding cookies we'd be happy to try and answer them for you, contact us.