Cookies may be set by the website you are visiting (‘first party cookies’) or they may be set by other websites who run content on the page you are viewing (‘third party cookies’).
What is in a cookie?
A cookie is a simple text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device by a website’s server and only that server will be able to retrieve or read the contents of that cookie. Each cookie is unique to your web browser. It will contain some anonymous information such as a unique identifier and the site name and some digits and numbers. It allows a website to remember things like your preferences or what’s in your shopping basket.
What to do if you don’t want cookies to be set
Some people find the idea of a website storing information on their computer or mobile device a bit intrusive, particularly when this information is stored and used by a third party without them knowing. Although this is generally quite harmless you may not, for example, want to see advertising that has been targeted to your interests. If you prefer, it is possible to block some or all cookies, or even to delete cookies that have already been set; but you need to be aware that you might lose some functions of that website.
First party cookies
First party cookies are set by the website, you are visiting and they can only be read by that site.
Third party cookies
Third party cookies are set by a different organisation to the owner of the website you are visiting. For example, the website might use a third party analytics company who will set their own cookie to perform this service. The website you are visiting may also contain content embedded from, for example YouTube or Flickr, and these sites may set their own cookies.
More significantly, a website might use a third party advertising network to deliver targeted advertising on their website. These may also have the capability to track your browsing across different sites.
Session Cookies are stored only temporarily during a browsing session and are deleted from the user’s device when the browser is closed.
This type of cookie is saved on your computer for a fixed period (usually a year or longer) and is not deleted when the browser is closed. Persistent cookies are used where we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use this type of cookie to store your preferences, so that they are remembered for the next visit.
Many websites use Adobe Flash Player to deliver video and game content to their users. Adobe utilise their own cookies, which are not manageable through your browser settings but are used by the Flash Player for similar purposes, such as storing preferences or tracking users.
Flash Cookies work in a different way to web browser cookies (the cookie types listed above are all set via your browser); rather than having individual cookies for particular jobs, a website is restricted to storing all data in one cookie. You can control how much data can be stored in that cookie but you cannot choose what type of information is allowed to be stored.