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What are Cookies
Cookies record information about user's behavior while visiting a website or while using a web application (what you ticked, filled out, agreed on, and so on).

Cookies record information about user’s behavior while visiting a website or while using a web application (what you ticked, filled out, agreed on, and so on). When the user comes back to this website, the corresponding cookie file, stored in the web browser on the user’s computer, is read and the stored information is used to make the second user’s stay more pleasant. The primary goal of cookies is not to track the user but to make their stay on a website easier and more comfortable.

There are the following types of cookies:

  • Functional cookies without which the website wouldn’t work properly. They are required for trouble-free running of web page features. For example, without them, you couldn’t stay logged in on a website, or you wouldn’t be able to fill up your cart of any e-shop.
  • Analytical UX cookies allow to track website traffic. The website operator uses the cookies to improve the user experience, simplify the navigation, and to improve the user environment and features.
  • Business, conversion cookies are used by website operators to evaluate the effectiveness of advertising or affiliate programs, so they know how the visitors came to their website
  • Tracking and remarketing cookies record user preferences and allow to target or optimize advertising for frequent visitors to the site, but also to other sites, and to inform advertising systems

How do cookies help users?

In principle, cookies avoid the web page or web application to ask the users for the information they have already supplied, over and over again, and thus make their stay more pleasant through customisation. From the users’ point of view, it’s nice because they don’t have to provide the same information again. Without cookies, for example, a visitor to a website would have to log on to every single page of a web site. Cookies allow the site to remember that you have already logged in. For example, e-shops use cookies to remember what you’ve put in the cart and allow you to continue shopping. It can be said that users can definitely benefit from the existence of the first three types of cookies. They do not contain personal data and are anonymous. Cookies in the last group (tracking and remarketing) may also be of benefit to users, but they may also be abused and sold to a third party.

What is so problematic about cookies? What are the risks?

In principle, cookies are not bad, they help to improve the user experience. On the other hand, there is a risk of abuse of these files to track the users, as they store certain information about them. It’s like with a knife: it can be used to hurt someone, but that does not mean that knife as such is a bad tool. On the contrary, it is a very useful thing, practically indispensable. Likewise, cookies may be used for the benefit of the user as well as they may be misused by an operator with bad intentions or who trades traffic data.

Can cookies be misused? Are they dangerous? Can cookies store information you do not want them to store?

Cookies do not pose a threat to the computer but may contain personal information as they normally store information about the preferences of the visitor or user of the website or application. Such information can then be used for targeted advertising. However, it should be said that cookies are not the only source of such information.

Information stored by cookies can only copy your behavior on a particular website, e.g. information that you have provided in a web form. It is possible to forbid the cookies, however, that would also mean that you couldn’t take advantage of the benefits cookies bring.

Generally, users should be careful with applications or websites with an unverified operator.

How do cookies work and where are they stored?

Cookies are short text files that are created by a website (or more precisely by a web server) and they are stored by your Internet browser on your device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.). You can delete them or prevent them from being created in the Internet browser settings. This has to be done for each site separately.

If you do not want to use cookies, you have basically two options:

  • delete regularly all cookies after leaving the site or after closing the web browser - that is the less radical way.
  • turn off cookies in your browser. However, in this case, some websites and apps will not work comfortably, properly, or will not work at all.

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Last update: 29.04.2018

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