What is a cookie?

A cookie is an inoffensive text file that is stored in your browser whenever you visit a website. Cookies are used so that the website can remember you when you visit it again. Many people do not know that cookies have been used for 20 years, since the first World Wide Web browsers were established.

What a cookie IS NOT

It is not a virus, Trojan, worm, spam or spyware, and it does not open pop-up windows.

What information is stored in a cookie?

Cookies do not usually store sensitive information about you such as credit cars or banking data, photographs, your ID or personal information, etc. They store technical data, personal preferences, customisation of content, etc.

The web server does not associate to you as a person but to your web browser. Indeed, if you usually use Internet Explorer and try visiting the same website with Firefox or Chrome, you will see that it does not realise that you are the same person, because it is really associated to the browser, not to the person.

What type of cookies are there?

  • Technical cookies: They are the most basic and, among other things, they identify whether a person or an automatic application is browsing, whether an anonymous or a registered user is browsing, etc.; these are basic tasks in the operation of dynamic websites.
  • Analytical cookies: They gather information about type of browsing, the sections that you use the most, queried products, times of use, language, etc.
  • Advertising cookies: They show advertising according to your browsing pattern, country of origin, language, etc.

What are own and third party cookies?

Own cookies are generated by the site you are visiting and third party cookies are generated by external services or providers such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.

What happens if I disable cookies?

Here are a few examples, so that you can see what can happen if you disable cookies:

  • You will not be able to share content from that website on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network.
  • The website will not be able to adapt its content to your personal preferences, as online retail outlets usually do.
  • You will not be able to access the site’s personal area, such as, for instance My account, My profile or My orders.
  • Online stores: You will not be able to buy anything online, only by phone or by visiting the store in person.
  • It will not be possible to customise your geographic preferences such as time zone, currency or language.
  • The website will not be able to analyse its visitors and web traffic, making it difficult to be competitive.
  • You will not be able to publish comments on the blog, upload photos, publish comments or rate or comment on content. The site will also not know whether you are a person or an automatic application publishing spam.
  • The website will not be able to show sector-specific advertising, which will reduce its advertising income.
  • All social networks use cookies; if you disable them you will not be able to use a social network.

Can cookies be eliminated?

Yes. Not only eliminated, but also blocked, either in general or for a specific domain.

To remove the cookies from a website you must go to your browser settings and look for the cookies associated to the domain in question, and then delete them.

Here is how to access a specific cookie from the Chrome browser. Note: these steps may vary depending on the version of the browser:

  1. Go to Settings or Preferences via the File menu or by clicking on the customisation icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. You will see different sections; click on Show advanced options.
  3. Go to Privacy, Content settings.
  4. Select All cookies and the site data.
  5. You will see a list of all the cookies ordered by domain. To make it easier to find the cookies of a given domain, enter part of or the entire address in the Search cookies field.
  6. After this filter, you will see one or several lines with the cookies of the website in question. Now you only have to select them and press X to delete them.

To access cookies settings in Internet Explorer, follow these steps (they may vary depending on the version of browser):

  1. Go to Tools, Internet options
  2. Click on Privacy.
  3. Move the slide to the desired level of privacy.

To access cookies settings in Firefox, follow these steps (they may vary depending on the version of browser):

  1. Go to Options or Preferences, depending on your operating system.
  2. Click on Privacy.
  3. In History choose Use custom settings for history.
  4. You will now see the Accept cookies option and can enable or disable it as you prefer.

To access cookies settings in Safari for OSX, follow these steps (they may vary depending on the version of browser):

  1. Go to Preferences, and then Privacy.
  2. Now you will see the Block cookies option where you can apply the kind of block that you prefer.

To access cookies settings in Safari for iOS, follow these steps (they may vary depending on the version of browser):

  1. Go to Settings and then Safari.
  2. Go to Privacy and Security and you will see the Block cookies option where you can apply the kind of block that you prefer.

To access cookies settings in the browser for Android devices, follow these steps (they may vary depending on the version of browser):

  1. Run the browser and press Menu and then Settings.
  2. Go to Security and Privacy, and you will see the Accept cookies option where you can check or uncheck the box.

To access cookies settings in the browser for Windows Phone devices, follow these steps (they may vary depending on the version of browser):

  1. Open Internet Explorer, then More and then Settings
  2. You can now check or uncheck the Allow cookies box.