A Friendly Reminder about Cookies
Jackie here. Are your cookies spying on you? I’m not talking about that box of chocolate wafers in the cupboard, but rather cookies that websites use to monitor the activity of site visitors. These cookies might not be seen, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t gathering your information.
What Are Cookies?
Do you need a refresher course about cookies? We’ve all heard of them, but how many of us actually understand what these cookies are gathering? We could all use a little reminder about cookies every now and again.
Cookies are small files that websites place on your hard drive. They basically act as an identifier (kind of like a name tag) that alerts the website to your presence and subsequent visits. Cookies aren’t necessarily bad; they bring a lot of convenience and functionality to the internet. Every time your shopping cart remains filled with items when you return to a site, that’s a cookie in action. Cookies also make it easier to use websites where you need to login. Without a cookie, you’d be forced to enter your password a lot more frequently.
Although cookies can be harmless and even helpful in some instances, they carry the potential to gather huge amounts of personal information about you. When you provide personal information to a website (to make a purchase for example) this can be paired with a cookie, letting the website know exactly who is visiting (both that time and each time you return). Cookies can also be used to monitor your web behavior, transmitting information about the sites you visit, the things you buy, etc. to advertisers and others.
Cookies and Your Privacy
Cookies have the potential to compromise your online privacy, but there are things you can do to increase your control.
Privacy Policies Are a Must– Are you reading your privacy policies? These important documents help you to know how your information is being used. This enables you to make smart choices about the websites that you choose to visit and the information you provide. Read privacy policies carefully and often (remember, policies can change).
Clear Your Cookies– Cookies do track your web behavior, but they can be removed (most can at least; some new cookies are unavoidable). You can clear your cookies easily any time you want a fresh start for your browser.
Learn about Your Options– To protect your data from cookies, learn about them. Here is a great resource for understanding cookies.