The main purpose of a cookie is to identify a website’s users and personalise web pages through packaging information into a cookie and sending such information to your web browser, which then stores the information for later use. If a user is a regular visitor to the site, the information stored is sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. This information exchange between the browser and the server creates customised web pages, enhancing the user’s experience.
A session cookie
A session cookie is stored in a browser’s temporary memory and is not retained when the browser is closed, it is erased. Session cookies will typically store information for the session, allowing the user to navigate from page to page without having to continuously logging on to their profile, making for a more streamlined user experience.
A persistent cookie
Unlike a session cookie, this cookie is retained on your hard drive until it expires on the chosen expiration date, or until you delete the cookie. These cookies are useful to collect identifying information about the user, to adapt a user’s browser to their preferences.
Consenting to cookies
Regulation 6 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 specifies that a person shall not store or gain access to information stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user unless the requirements unless the following requirements are met:
- The website must tell users the cookies are there;
- The website must explain what the cookies are doing and why;
- The website must get the user’s consent to store a cookie on their device;
- Consent must be freely given, specific and informed;
- Must involve positive action (such as ticking a box or clicking a link);
Benefits of cookies