WHAT ARE COOKIES?

Cookies are small text files that are stored on your computer, which hold information that a website can read. This information is used to allow the publishers of any website to provide you with a greater viewing experience. For example, cookies can be used to speed up the download for sites you have previously visited, or to authenticate your visit and prevent you from having to log in every time you visit the website, or to store information you have provided the website on an earlier occasion such as passwords etc.

It is important to note however, that although they contain information relevant to your use of cookies, they cannot carry viruses or install software on your computer. Web sites that use cookies usually do so to ensure that they give you the best experience when visiting the website. If you continue onto any web site that employs cookies, without changing your settings, the owners assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the websites.

COOKIE CATEGORIES

There are two types of JavaScript cookies- permanent, and session-only. The first one stores its information in a physical file on the client's computer called "cookie.txt", with the stored data "permanently" available. Session only cookies, on the other hand, store information in the browser memory, which is only available for the duration of the browser session. In other words, the data stored inside a session cookie is available from the time of storage until the browser is closed. Moving from page to page during this time does not erase the data. Session only cookies last only for the session; they are erased when the you close your web browser.

Cookies are further categorised into four different areas:

Necessary

Cookies that are categorised into the 'Necessary' category are necessary in order for the website to operate and enable services that are specifically asked for, such as shopping basket functionality or online billing services. The website cannot function without these cookies.

Performance

Cookies that are categorised into the 'Performance' category are used to improve the performance of a website, for example, to collect non-personal data and improve how the website works. An example of a cookie in this category is the use of a 'splash count' cookie. When used on a website it records how many times you have viewed a particular page. On your next visit to the website, this information can then be used to determine whether you are taken to the relevant ‘splash’ page, or directly to the homepage.

Functionality

Cookies that are categorised into the 'Functionality' category are used to offer additional functionality to a website. For example, a cookie could store the region you live in, or the language that you have selected to browse the website in.

Targeting

Cookies that are categorised into the 'Targeting' category can be used to offer you more relevant advertising on a website and are used to limit the number of times you see an advertisement. Many companies such as Amazon, Virgin, Yahoo, use external companies to provide and serve adverts on their websites. These companies may use information (not including personally identifiable information) about your visits to those and other websites, in order to personalise advertisements on the sites, relevant to your interests or web browsing habits. For example say you googled Yamaha motorbikes, you might experience adverts on another site you visit featuring Yamaha motorbikes.

MANAGING OR BLOCKING COOKIES

If you would like more information on cookies, and how to manage/remove/block them, you can view such at AllAboutCookies and Network Advertising Initiative.

EU COOKIES LAW

You can find out more about the EEC;s legislation regarding cookies here.