What Would Happen if….. You Accepted Cookies on a Website?                  

By: Kevin Mensah

 When you receive a pop-up regarding cookies on a website what do you contemplate? Scrumptious concoctions from your grandma’s oven? Gooey pastries from your local bakery? Or perhaps the God-given, frosted sugar cookies sold at Walmart for $3.98. 

What are Website Cookies?: 

If you’ve ever browsed a website on your mobile device or computer, you may have come across a notification informing you that the page is using “cookies” to track you. Some of these pop-up notifications might come along with these synonymous statements: “We use cookies to personalize content and enhance your experience,” and  “we value your privacy.” Cookies are small text files generated by websites you visit. Websites send these small files to your device to monitor you and make your online experience convenient by saving your browsing information on that particular website. Some of the features of cookies on a website are to keep you signed in, analyze your use of the website for developer feedback, remember your zip code, recognize your device, personalize the website for you, and even track any kind of data about you over the years.. 

The 3 Different Types of Cookies:

The three types of cookies are Session-cookies, Persistent cookies, and Third-party cookies. Session cookies are temporary cookies that help you maneuver through a website by remembering your information and close as soon as you exit that website. One exemplary use of this is for online shopping. When you shop online, you can check out at any time. If there were no session cookies implemented into the website and you attempted to check out your cart, it would be empty. Persistent cookies on websites, also referred to as first-party cookies, pull information from your login information, language selections, menu preferences, internal bookmarks, and more to personalize and save your website information for the next time you visit. Third-party cookies are placed by a website other than the one you are currently using. They collect information about users by tracking your interests, location, age, and search trends, to provide you with custom advertisements that will appeal to your interests. 

      Why is this Important?

Just like most of us are guilty of stealing one too many cookies from the cookie jar, most of us are guilty of mindlessly clicking the “allow” or “deny” options when faced with a cookie pop-up. Although accepting cookies isn’t necessarily bad because they can’t infect computers with viruses or malware, the danger lies in their ability to track individuals’ browsing histories. As the number of persistent cookies builds up on your computer, they can also contribute to slow internet performance, which is why browsers like Google offer options to clear browsing cookies from settings. The Cookie Law that began the permission pop-ups started as an European Union Directive that was adopted by all EU countries in May 2011, giving users the right to refuse the use of cookies. There are currently no federal laws regulating the use of cookies in the US. However, state-level laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) regulate cookies as personal information.