When You Accept Internet Cookies, Do You Know What You're Saying Yes To?

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Yes, this question caused you to mentally go back in time to all the times you accepted internet cookies without thinking about it. We've all done it without thinking at some point while searching for something online. 

But what were you really accepting? Does it represent a threat to you and the privacy of your data?

It's not about hackers accessing your information if you say yes, much less spam itself. There is a whole world structure behind the famous system and we will detail how they have to do with all things online nowadays.

The what and how of internet cookies

The first thing to know is that internet cookies have a close link with the origin of e-commerce. They were created by Netscape engineers in the nineties to emulate virtual shopping carts and work by collecting vital information about the person accepting the notice.

Truth is, they are a crucial part of the online experience while buying. They can also be called HTTP cookies, web cookies, or browser cookies, but all refer to the same process of tracking web activity. Current marketing technology systems benefit greatly from them and it is the jumpstart for many online publicity campaigns.

The moment you visit a website, and say ‘yes’ to the warning, they’re transferred to the browser of your device and are saved as small data packets.

All the activities you carry out within the website are recorded. What you visit, where you stay longer and if you did any kind of search. They are packages of valuable information, but you should manage them with caution because any kind of website can send these tiny informational files your way.

Know the types and their differences

1. First-party cookies

They are installed directly by the website being visited. Now, according to this guide on Osano.com this type allows the domain to collect valuable information mainly for a good web experience: remember language settings, collect statistics and basic data. It is the safest and preferable type.

2. Third-party cookies

Third-party cookies are installed by websites other than those you visit and have the primary purpose of collecting the information necessary for commercial campaigns. They seek to know how a person spends their money, how they behave, and what they’re needing.

They are usually used by advertising and marketing companies to complete campaigns that seek to ensure that different products and services are aimed at the right audience. These are the least safe as third parties can buy, sell and transfer this information.

3. Session cookies

They are also called 'temporary cookies' and give support for a website to recognize an online user. The recognition comes through all the information that was collected on the last time the person visited. Session cookies only manage to track all this information during the user's stay, not after they leave.

It is quite common to observe this type in e-commerce pages or in online retailers. Once the browser is closed, the cookies are forever erased.

4. Permanent cookies

They are also called 'persistent cookies' and unlike the previous ones, these do remain working after the browser is closed. A representative example is the process of autocompletion of passwords since that access information was already previously collected and there is no need to add it again later.

Legislation varies between countries on the true permanence of them, but normally this type must be completely eliminated within a year.

5. Flash cookies

They are also called 'super cookies' and work independently of a web browser. They have a deeper range since their storage goes directly on a device or computer.

These types of cookies remain on a user's device even after all cookies have been deleted from their web browser.

6. Zombie cookies

They are a very special type and can be dangerous since they are a reanimated or re-created version of a flash cookie after they have been deleted. By this nature, they can be difficult to detect or clean from a system.

Its use is found mostly in the online gaming area. Their goal is to prevent any player from cheating, but they can also deploy malicious information on a device.

The three main benefits of saying yes to internet cookies

Anyone who searches for information or buys products and services online can benefit greatly from this system. In the case of business, it can be the first step to developing a PR campaign with such a large amount of information. These are four main benefits of allowing them:

1. Find what you really need

If you are looking for a specific product and the website has the "related search" option, you will have similar results available to your tastes and those of other users with the same searches. 

By providing information such as your location, currency of the country in which you live and preferred language, it will be an absolutely customized experience.

2. Fill out forms only once

Cookies can store important business information such as tax address or purchase data so that it can be self-completed as soon as you authorize it. This pretty much optimizes the little time you can have available and make multiple purchases.

3. Saved shopping carts

Back to the beginning of it all. It is common for anyone to be making an online purchase and suddenly must leave and close all tabs. This type of cookie saves what you have deposited in your cart for the next time you enter.

The three main inconveniences

On the other hand, they also open up a wide view of information security and privacy. 

These are the three main reasons why:

1. Misplacement of valuable information

One of their great dangers is that they are used to collect valuable information and then sell it to the highest bidder on the web. You won't know where your data will actually end up being used. This comes mainly from third-party cookies.

2. Privacy

Your IP address and browsing history basically become public domain. Nowadays virtually any browser accepts cookies as default settings, so beware to check your personal settings.

3. A performance dead weight

Being sources of information, they take up valuable space within the hard drive of your device, so they can slow down its performance and affect the RAM memory. This slows the computer or cellphone’s operation.

Be aware of the legislation and basic rules for internet cookies

Legislation on internet cookies and data privacy vary between states, as there are no nationwide laws in the United States. One big and pretty current example of data legislation is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), allowing any person the right to know about the personal information collected about them.

Zooming out, the biggest regulation worldwide is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in the European Union. It’s based on the fact that all personal information can’t be used without the person’s permission and if that person gives it, it must be thoroughly protected.

Based on this, there are general rules that reliable websites must follow and can help you to know if you’re on safe land:

  • Inform users that cookies will be used and what is the specific type.
  • Always explain the purpose of its use.
  • Obtain informed and explicit consent by pressing the 'yes' button after the notice.
  • Have a section that indicates the particular policies of cookies’ use in the website.

About consent accepting internet cookies and erasing them

In order for internet cookies to operate safely, the consent given must be explicit and informed. That is, there must always be a 'yes' press to a checkbox that clarifies that the user gives his consent.

Never this positive response should be through a fuzzy or complicated privacy policy to be understood. There must be clarity and transparency with the user.

In addition, another key principle is the possibility to disable or delete cookies whenever it is needed.

It is always possible to delete most of them. The main way is from the web browser, within the browsing history options. Although an acceptance response was given in the first instance, deleting them is best if you detect that something is not right on the website.

Now that you are well aware, let’s recap

  • Internet cookies can make the most of your online life, but it's essential to know what they are before agreeing to them.
  • They’re information files sent your way to collect important information about you and your online activities.
  • They can come directly from the website you're on (first parties - the ideal ones) or from third parties.
  • All internet cookies have an active time, which means that they can be erased after you leave a website or remain active afterward. Be sure to know which one you’re agreeing to.
  • Privacy and cookie policies in a website are a must for a safe experience.
  • They’re not a security or a privacy thread as such, so it’s not about them being inherently good or bad. They can represent an extensive advantage in online experience through truly informed consent.
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Written by:
Ricky is the founder of Markletic. He is an expert in Marketing Technology with over 10 years of experience in testing and reviewing MarTech. Ricky's passion is to help companies with fine-tuning their MarTech stack to optimally impact revenue growth.

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