1) What is a cookie?: Cookies are simple text files that sites save to your computer or mobile device using your website browser. Only that server will be able to retrieve or read the contents of that cookie and each cookie is unique to your web browser. Cookies are either set by the website you are visiting (‘first-party cookies’), or are set by other websites and services that run content on the page you are viewing (‘third-party cookies’).
If you dislike the idea of a website accessing and storing your data you have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your browser at any time. The ‘help’ function within your browser should tell you how, or for more information on ‘enabling/disabling cookies’, please continue to read below. If you choose this option however, you may not be able to use all the interactive features of this site if the cookies are disabled.
3) Types of cookie:
'First-party cookies' are set by the website you are visiting and they can only be read by that site. They can make your experience on the web more efficient by recording your browsing activities, such as which pages and content you’ve looked at, when you visited, what you searched for and whether you clicked on an ad.
'Third-party cookies' are set by a different organisation to the owner of the website you are visiting. This could be a company advertising on the site you’re visiting, or a site that contains embedded content, such as Facebook. Those websites may send you cookies and they control the setting of those cookies, not the site you are visiting.
'Session cookies' are stored temporarily during a browsing session and are deleted from the user’s device when the browser is closed.
'Persistent cookies' are saved on your computer for a fixed period and are not deleted when the browser is closed. These cookies are used to save your preferences so that they persist when you return to the website.
'Flash cookies' work in a different way to web-browser cookies (first-party, third-party, session and persistent cookies are all set via your browser). Rather than having individual cookies for particular jobs, a flash website is restricted to storing all data in one cookie. You can control how much data can be stored in that cookie, but you cannot choose what type of information is allowed to be stored.
4) Enabling/disabling cookies: Different browsers have different ways of allowing you to enable or delete cookies, or limit the kinds of cookies that can be placed on your computer. When choosing your browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari), you may want to consider which best suits your privacy preferences. To check out the settings in a browser, use the ‘help’ tab or look under ‘tools’ for settings like ‘options’ or ‘privacy’. From there, you may be able to delete cookies, or control when they can be placed. If you disable cookies you may limit your browsing experience. For example, you may need to enter information repeatedly, or you might not get personalised content or ads that are meaningful to you. However, most browsers’ settings will allow you to block 'third-party cookies' without also disabling 'first-party cookies'.