What is a Cookie?

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We all see that little cookies disclaimer that comes up at the bottom of your screen when you navigate to a new web page. I bet most of us just click “Accept Cookies” to get the annoying bar taking up room on our screen out of the way. But what does accepting cookies even mean? Let’s take a look!

What are Cookies?

Cookies are text files that contain small bits of data.  Cookies are created when you use your browser to visit a website that uses cookies to keep track of your movements within the site, help you resume where you left off, remember your registered login, theme selection, preferences, and other customization functions.

Cookies are a form of derived data. Cookies take into account all of your preferences, behavior patterns, and insights in order to “remember” you when you come back. On some sites, if you decline the Cookies invitation, the website won’t work at all. Those little pop ups that invite you to accept Cookies are essentially asking your consent for them to track your every move on their site. Maybe we will all be a bit more mindful when clicking accept next time. 

Why Cookies can be Dangerous

To set the record straight, Cookies themselves are not dangerous. It’s when your Cookies are hijacked and the hijackers enable access to your browsing sessions. The danger presents itself in their ability to track your browsing histories. When these unauthorized people get a hold of this information, they can resell your information which in turn violates your privacy rights.  

There have been laws put into place within the past few years to try to mitigate privacy issues, but they have ultimately been ineffective. On one hand, users should know what they’re getting into and what companies are tracking when they go to a website. On the other hand, asking them to check a box when they have no idea what they’re agreeing to and not giving them any other viable options doesn’t seem to be the perfect solution. What do you think a good in-between is?

Want to learn more about Data Privacy University topics? Click here!