What is a cookie?
Cookies are text files that are downloaded onto the device of a user when they visit a website. Upon each subsequent visit, cookies are sent back to the website that created them (first-party cookies) or to another website that recognises them (third-party cookies). Cookies are useful because they allow a website to recognise a user’s device. They have different purposes, for example, allowing efficient browsing between pages, remembering favourite websites and, in general, improving the browsing experience. They also help to ensure that the advertising content displayed online is more relevant to the user and to their interests.
Depending on the function and purpose of use, cookies can be divided into four categories: strictly necessary cookies, performance cookies, functionality cookies and targeting cookies.
Strictly necessary cookies
allow movement around a website and use of its functions. Without these cookies, the requested services cannot be provided. One example of this is storing the actions (e.g. text entered) to return to the previous pages within the same session.
collect information on the use of a website by visitors, for example the most visited pages and the possible displaying of site error messages. These cookies do not collect information that can result in the profiling of visitors. All the information obtained is aggregated (therefore anonymous) and is only used to improve functioning of the site.
allow the site to remember the user’s choices (such as their name, their language and geographical region where they are located) and to provide advanced and more customised functions. For example, a website may be able to provide local tax information using a cookie to store the province in which the user is located at that time. Functionality cookies can also be used to provide certain services requested by the user, such as the playing of a video. The information gathered by these cookies can be made anonymous and unable to track the browsing activity of the user on other websites.
are used to provide advertising content that is more specific to the user and to their interests. They also allow limiting of the number of appearances of an advertisement while being able to determine the effectiveness of an advertising campaign. They remember whether or not a user has visited a website, sharing this information with other organisations (e.g. advertisers). Targeting or advertising cookies are often linked to site functions provided by other organisations.
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