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What are cookies and how they are used: a guide

What are cookies? How are they used? Who creates them? And how many types exist? A guide to understanding what happens when we accept them

We all receive them, but what are cookies few really know: cookies are a method of tracking users' internet browsing and are mainly used for tracking advertisements.

What does it mean to accept cookies

Despite the emphasis placed by the advertising industry on the future disappearance of cookies and the increase in target planning based on people and identifiers, rather than on cookies, online advertising is still very much dependent on cookies for tracking purposes.

The privacy law for cookies

The laws on the use of cookies have been made more precise also in our country and it is plausible that new, more severe, forecasts may arrive over time, given the persistent importance of cookies for advertisements: it may therefore be useful to specify more precisely which are the types of cookies and what they are used for.

First-party cookies – First-party cookies

First-party cookies are inserted by the publisher or site owner when a user visits your site. If an individual visits a specific publisher's website to read the news, for example, that publisher issues a cookie. These cookies help define the user experience. British Airways, for example, uses cookies to remember things like the language and country chosen by a user so that it can present relevant content and adequate departure airports, all to make the user experience more transparent. Most publishers and website owners monitor website traffic through external providers such as Google Analytics. This type of cookie can still be counted among first-party cookies, because they are monitoring visitors on the publisher's own site.

Third-party cookies – Third-party cookies

This is one of the most widespread. But what are third-party cookies? Third-party cookies are used for all advertising with retargeting and behavioral advertising. By adding one or more tags to a page, advertisers can track a user or their device in different websites. This use allows you to build a user profile based on your habits, so messages can be better addressed based on your interests. This type of cookie will probably be the one most susceptible to being subject to further regulations, due to the risk of invasion of privacy. Unorthodox practices implemented in some cases, such as cookie bombing, incessant retargeting and other dubious and abused approaches over the years in marketing they have not helped their reputation with lawmakers in Brussels. Getting a detailed consensus for these cookies is difficult due to the complexity of the digital supply chain of the advertising offer.

Session cookies – Session cookies

These cookies allow websites to link a user's actions during a browser session; they are only temporarily stored in the browser's memory, so once a user closes their browser, the cookie disappears and that's why session cookies are considered less intrusive than persistent cookies. Session cookies are used to access websites, storing the login credentials of an individual each time they visit a particular site. Websites also use session cookies for important site functions, such as ensuring fast loading of pages.

Persistent cookie – Persistent cookies

As their name suggests, these cookies are set for longer on the computer. The site, or the developer who creates them, usually provides them with an expiration date, which can be any date, from a few seconds up to 20 years. The best way to check the existence of a persistent cookie is to access a website, then restart the computer and return to the same website and if you are still connected, the site probably uses a persistent cookie to remember who you are. These cookies are commonly used for statistical analysis and to monitor visitor behavior on the site. Publishers typically use this data to understand which people prefer what, so they can better adapt to their needs and improve the user experience.

Safe cookies – Secure cookies

What are security cookies? Not everyone needs this type of cookie, but an ultra-secure way to store information. Protected cookies are transmitted only via HTTPS, ensuring that the data inside the cookie is encrypted when you switch between the website and the browser. They are usually found in the pages of online shopping websites. Any site with e-commerce services that remembers the details of the credit and debit card usually safe.

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