What is a “cookie” and what does a “better browsing experience” even mean?
How Websites Track You
Data Privacy Day occurs every year on January 28th, which leads to the topic of this month’s article. How much of your data is truly private?
Cookies are fundamental to maintaining user preferences such as language, timezone, and usernames, making it more convenient for the user. However, there is a reason why some regions such as California and the European Union require websites to disclose their cookie usage and to prompt users to accept cookies.
Third-Party Cookies, The Browser’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Third-party cookies are a type of cookie tracked by websites that aren’t the ones you’re visiting. An example of this is an advertising company tracking what websites you’ve visited and showing you personalized ads based on that information. These cookies can even see multiple tabs on your browser, creating a trail of crumbs as you move from tab to tab, effectively giving them your browser history.
Do third-party cookies make for a “better browsing experience”? Simply put, no. Unlike first-party cookies, which retain user information and preferences for convenience, third-party cookies are mostly used to display relevant ads. At its worst, third-party cookies can store your email and name, allowing websites to give your contact information to parties that can send you spam.
The Way The Cookie Crumbles
Cookie-Script is a website that can let you see how many first-party and third-party cookies a website uses. While it’s nice to view the cookies a website has, how do I get rid of them? Here’s how to disable third-party cookies while keeping useful first-party cookies.
On Chrome, Settings > Site Settings > Cookies and site data > Block third-party cookies
On Firefox, Settings > Privacy & Security > Enhanced Tracking Protection > Custom > All third-party cookies (may cause websites to break)
On Edge, Settings > Site permissions > Block third-party cookies
This way, advertisers and other groups can’t have access to your information!
So How Much Do They Really Know About You?
In conclusion, cookies can track almost everything you do on a website. This allows for convenience and most websites fail to work when you disable all cookies (They’re that important!). Trusted websites having access to your cookies isn’t at all harmful. It’s the third parties, advertisers, and malicious services accessing your browsing information through cookies that you should be looking out for! Fortunately, disabling third-party cookies should protect you.
By: Khoi Pham