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Introduction To Website Cookies (Without The Tech Jargon)

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With all the websites that you’ve visited in the past, you may have encountered pop ups or widgets on your screen containing something in lines of “we use cookies to further enhance your experience” accompanied by a button. Aside from the fact that they are somewhat of a nuisance, these cookies actually contain more secrets than what you normally see on those popups. But what are they exactly? What do they do? Is it a cause for concern? And is it a permanent part of your browsing experience? And while this topic alone is technical in nature, we’ve made it so you, our readers and users, can better understand what’s going on with these cookies.

What Are Cookies?

Website cookies found on a website unfortunately are not the same as the ones our mom used to hide from us when we were kids. No, in the world of the web industry, cookies are bits of information or code embedded on the website that intends to store user behavior and preferences. You may have been wondering why your preferences seem to stay the same the next time you enter a shopping website. This is due to cookies being able to monitor and retain user data. Think of it as a short term memory for websites. It’s meant to improve user experience by making browsing a lot more convenient and personalized.

There are two types of website cookies, first party and third part cookies. But then again, we don’t want to delve in too deep into the topic and cause confusion. You can however, stay tuned for our future blogs that will cover such topics in depth, but for now, let’s stick with the surface level topic.

Are They Safe?

The short answer is yes. While cookies are accountable for storing your personal data for contact forms, accounts, and web settings, they themselves are generally harmless. These codes on the website are simply there to track your preferences and behavior, and store data as needed, that’s basically it.

So Why Are More People Becoming More Worried About Cookies?

Well, as stated above, these tools are used to store user data and monitor behavior. For anyone living these days, this is definitely a cause for concerns as it enters the realm of privacy. We may have watched those movies and read about this “all seeing eye” or Uncle Sam secretly monitoring your every movement, which in turn creates unrest among the general population who just wants to do their thing. Now, while it’s nowhere near that kind of level. The concept of silent data gathering IS in fact there, and to no surprise, knowing that your personal data is being stored and your behavior being monitored without your consent is definitely alarming.

Is There A Move To Address This Issue?

In fact, there is. The mere presence of popups informing you about the existence of cookies on the website is due to various privacy legislations new and old requiring web owners to inform visitors about the presence of such tools on their website. The Cookie law (yes, there’s such a thing) or the ePrivacy Directive was first passed by the EU in 2002. This directive was made to protect users from potential consequences of gathering data on the website. But at that time, as most of the web technology we had back in the day, went nailed quite properly (since legal implementations for such concern was rather ambiguous and inadequate). Fast forward to this day and we now have newer and broader privacy legislations that are no longer limited to EU citizens. California or example passed privacy legislations that are meant to protect online users, and direct website owners to provide consent to father data before they actually do so.

So the answer is yes, there are a number of legislations designed to address such concerns, and numerous ongoing studies to further enhance such regulations.

The Future Of Cookies

Because of the rising concerns among online consumers with regards to transparency and privacy, tech giant Google has announced in January that they will be eliminating third party cookies (cookies used by third party platforms i.e. social media and ads) from chrome in 2022. This move is meant to build trust among its users by coming up with better alternatives that would benefit users and advertisers. They’ve already made attempts but still have a long ways to go. It’s more than just removing them completely, and it already involves the law, so it’s understandable to a certain extent why Google would take time and even move their target date to 2023. Till then, cookies are here to stay.

Can I Do Anything About It Right Now?

You can have some level off control when it comes to managing cookies on Google Chrome. There’s a step by step procedure published by Google on how you can do so. Now do take note that while this method provides a certain level of control, it does not guarantee that your data is secured (in a sense, if you delete or block cookies, it may not be 100% blocked).

As a website owner, you can create a better sense of transparency with your users by creating a privacy policy that details the purpose of such cookies, what they do, and how can it be managed by your users. If you’re partnering with a web company, you can have them set up the policy statement, as well as create a popup widget to inform users about the existence of cookies on your websites.

While there’s no running away from cookies any time soon, secure your website with a team of professional developers and marketing experts. Custom Virtual Solutions provides custom secure websites tailored for your brand and your users. We have a team of professionals dedicated to delivering the best experience for your users, and redefine your brand on today’s online market.

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