Cookies contain tiny amounts of data about users in text files that act like a website’s memory. As soon as we use a server, tiny amounts of data start getting stored inside a cookie. The website uses it to identify users and their devices, which also stores these cookies. Whenever a user visits the same website, the cookies identify him/her and make it show relevant information.
Consider visiting an e-commerce site, the cookies created for the site will tell it what smartphones we were looking to buy in our earlier searches. The cookies also help in suggesting the site about the budget range and brands that we prefer. Anyone who has used the internet has interacted with cookies in some way. Whenever a user visits a new website, it asks their permission to accept or reject cookies.
As soon as you hit accept, the website tries to identify your behaviour inside that domain. It starts collecting data about the pages users are visiting, time spent on a particular section and even the time of closing it. If a user wants to sign-up for any of the services that the website is offering, it can create cookies to remember their IDs and passwords only with their consent.
Advantages of cookies
Cookies make it convenient for users to enter a website and get a quality browsing experience. They don’t have to remember their IDs and passwords as they can just enter the sign-in page and log in with just one click. Cookies block irrelevant ads and help get better deals.
Disadvantages of cookies
Cookies are not dangerous themselves, but they can be misused by attackers. If your system ever gets compromised, hackers can access your browsing history and other sensitive data from the cookies to use it against us.
What happens when we reject cookies?
If one doesn’t accept the cookies, every time they visit a website they will have to put in credentials and it won’t track the behaviour inside the site. One might also see generic ads that can also be irrelevant. A user will be in complete control of the data, but the user experience of the website won’t be that convenient. You can also delete existing cookies from our browser(s) which will be the same as not accepting them in the first place.
Recently, a French government agency has fined Facebook and Google a sum of almost 240 million US dollars. The agency alleges that both these websites have made it very easy for the users to accept the cookies (as users get notifications on our screens), but deleting cookies is not that easy. The option to delete the cookies are buried inside the Privacy option of the Settings section and most average users don’t do it (unless it’s completely necessary). The tech giants are under a timeline to come up with a fix for this issue.
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