What Are Tracking Cookies?

Definitely not a Mary Berry special, tracking cookies are used by websites to track your browser actions.

Well that sounds bad – is it?

Yes and no.

Cookies are small pieces of information stored on your computer by your browser – they may be used to maintain the list of items in your shopping cart for example.  Cookies are used by websites to remember important information which can help your browsing experience e.g. not having to keep logging in.

So, what are tracking cookies?

Tracking Cookies are a specific type of cookie that is used across multiple websites to track which websites you use.  This may be so a website can present tailored information to you e.g. if you access a shopping site and look at specific products then you may find the next sites you visit show adverts for those same products.

For some people this is a step forward from random adverts but for others it’s an invasion of privacy.

Tracking cookies are commonly used to build records of people’s  browsing histories. Concern over this invasion of privacy prompted European Union and American legislators to take action in 2011. EU law requires all websites targeting EU member states gain “informed consent” from users before storing non-essential cookies on their device.

How to Block Tracking Cookies

Your browser will have privacy settings that allow you to block tracking cookies (sometime called third party cookies).

Some browsers have an option called ‘Do not Track’ which should have the same effect as blocking the third party cookies but not all websites implement this properly so it’s best to find the option to block.

To access the privacy settings you should find Settings on your browser menu then select privacy or security options.

How to Remove Tracking Cookies

Your anti-virus software will not normally remove tracking cookies but Internet Security packages will do and so will any anti-malware packages. Also there is software that will just  remove tracking cookies in order to maintain your privacy.

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