When browsing the web you will have seen a pop up on most websites asking you to consent to cookies.
Like many others, you may just click ‘accept’ on them without even thinking, but do you really understand what cookies are, what you’re consenting to, and the data that is being collected from you?
Keep reading as we give you the low-down on cookies!
Cookies are small text files that are sent by the website you’re visiting to the device you’re using.
If you accept them, they are stored on your device’s web browser to track and collect data. This data is then sent back to the website owner to use in a variety of ways.
In terms of the type of data cookies collect from you, it can vary between websites. Some websites collect cookies for marketing purposes, e.g. data on the time you spend on a website, the number of times you visit it, or your shopping basket items.
Many cookies are harmless, but there are some circumstances where you should decline them. We’ll discuss this further later in this blog post.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws mean that all companies are required to provide an opt in for users before they store cookies on their web browser. These laws are designed to give users greater control over their data and if a company doesn’t comply, it can result in fines.
GDPR laws were created with the user in mind, to emphasise consent and data privacy. As a result, you don’t actually have to accept cookies. The potential problem you may run into if you don’t accept them though is that you may not receive the full user experience on certain websites.
Here’s why it can be useful for you to accept cookies:
Full website access – without consenting to cookies, some websites won’t grant you full access.
Improved user experience – cookies help sites remember you. They know about your interests and can personalise your user experience.
There are some circumstances where you should decline cookies:
Unsecure websites – If you’re browsing a website that has an unlocked padlock icon in the search bar (next to the website address), the website is unsecure. Unsecure access may allow a third party, like a cybercriminal, to steal cookies from your browser.
Third party cookies – If the cookie consent pop-up mentions third party cookies, it’s recommended you click decline. These cookies allow websites to sell your browsing data to third parties that you have no control over, such as data brokers.
If your device is starting to slow – Cookies take up disk space on your device. If you find your device is slowing, you can clear your cookies and cache within the settings of your web browser but be aware this will sign you out of all websites.