a. What is a cookie and how is it used?
A cookie is a piece of text that is sent by a web server (e.g. this website) to the user’s Internet browser. The browser then automatically stores the cookie on the user’s computer, and automatically sends it back to the server whenever the user visits the website. By default, almost all web browsers allow cookies to be accepted automatically.
This websites use or may use one or more of the types of cookies listed below. The cookies are categorized in accordance with Opinion 04/2012 on Cookie Consent Exemption, issued by the Article 29 Working Party in reference to the European Union (available here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2012/wp194_en.pdf):
- “session” cookies are temporarily stored on the user’s computer purely for technical and functional purposes. These cookies allow for the transmission of the necessary session identifiers in order to ensure safe and efficient browsing on the website; they are deleted at the end of the “session” (hence the name), when the browser is closed. By using this type of cookie, other computer techniques that are potentially detrimental to users’ privacy when browsing can be avoided.
- “persistent cookies” remain stored on the computer’s hard drive until their expiration date or deletion by the user/visitor. Persistent cookies allow any visitor (or any other user who uses the same computer) to be automatically recognized when they log on to the site. Many user-friendly features are provided through persistent cookies (for example, browser language preferences can be saved, or items can be stored in a shopping cart while making purchases online). Nevertheless, persistent cookies can also be used to deliver advertising to the user, and may even be used purposes of dubious legality. Users can set their browsers to accept/reject all cookies, or to prompt them each time a cookie is offered so that they can decide whether to accept it or not. In any case, users are able to change their default settings and disable cookies (that is, definitively block them) by setting their browsers to the highest level of protection.
These two types of cookies (session and persistent) can be subdivided even further:
- they are considered “first-party” cookies when they are set directly by the owner and/or manager of the website
- they are considered “third-party” cookies when they are created and set by sources other than the website the user has visited.
b. How do cookies work and how are they deleted?
Cookie functionality, as well as options for restricting or blocking cookies, can be managed by changing the settings of the user’s web browser.
In addition, users can visit the website www.aboutcookies.org for information on how to manage/delete cookies based on the web browser being used.
In order to delete cookies from the web browser on a smartphone or tablet, users must refer to the device’s instruction manual.