When we provide services, we want to make them easy, useful and reliable. Where services are delivered on the internet, this sometimes involves placing small amounts of information on your computer or mobile phone. These include small files known as cookies. They cannot be used to identify you personally.
A cookie typically contains the name of the website from which it has come, the lifespan of the cookie and a value. The value is usually a unique code that will only make sense to the website that has issued it.
Cookies remember things like your colour scheme, what's in your shopping cart or that you've already logged in, so you don't need to do it for every page you visit on a website. Cookies can also be used to measure how people use websites and what kind of browsers or devices they're using.
Cookies are used to improve services for you through, for example:
- enabling a service to recognise your device so you don't have to give the same information several times during one task
- recognising that you may already have given a username and password so you don't
- need to do it for every web page requested
- measuring how many people are using services, so they can be made easier to use and there's enough capacity to ensure they are fast.
You can manage these small files yourself and learn more about them here at the ICO website.
Controlling and deleting cookies
You can set your web browser to accept or reject cookies, or tell you when a cookie is being sent. You can also delete cookies from your computer. But note, some websites may not work properly with the cookie option turned off.
The AboutCookies.org website tells you how to control and delete cookies on most browsers.