Everything you need to know about Internet cookies

Everything you need to know about Internet cookies

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You are sure to have encountered them before: those popup windows that appear the first time you visit a website. Known as cookie banners, they advise the user of what will happen with any data that is collected about them during their visit. In this article, we explain in cooperation with our Super User @DomiP the purpose of these cookies and whether you should delete them more often.

 

What are cookies?

Cookies are used to store various user data on a device while surfing the Internet. This data can be accessed again the next time a user visits a site or used to monitor user behaviour. Cookies are usually only temporary. Most are deleted by the browser after a few hours or within 2 years at most. The General Data Protection Regulation stipulates that you must be advised of cookies via the cookie banner. For more information on this, check out the Community article “What is the GDPR?

 

What information can be stored by a cookie?

In principle, a website could store any conceivable information in a cookie. Typically, however, they are used nowadays to store the selected language, a login or even a shopping cart full of items. Let us use the Swisscom Online Shop as an example: Yesterday, you placed an iPhone in your shopping cart, but you have not yet decided to purchase it. Today, when you return to the Swisscom website, you can see that iPhone immediately on your homepage and it is still in the shopping cart – even though you may have relaunched the browser. This is because of cookies that have stored your data.

 

How do I delete cookies?

Cookies can be deleted manually or automatically from the browser. There are pros and cons to this:

Cons

  • Cookie popups will keep being displayed.
  • The shopping cart will be empty the next time you visit a site.
  • When you visit the site at a later time, you will have to re-enter your login details.

Pros

  • You are spared the annoyance of adverts based on previously visited sites.
  • You decide which companies are able to store data about you.

Which devices other than computers also use cookies?

Cookies are almost ubiquitous in information technology. They are even used by your Swisscom TV-Box for instance. Here too, Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV providers, such as ORF, ZDF, ARD or SRF, store data with a view to improving services.

Cookies are also stored when using your mobile phone to surf the Internet or for some apps; for example, to store a login or save your place in an online game. Smart watches and vehicles that connect to your smartphone can also store cookies.

 

How can I stop cookies and related popup notifications?

Ideally, you should install a plugin that allows you to only delete certain cookies automatically. This way, you can store any logins and other data that you do not want to keep entering. We recommend the following plugins:

Or you can simply automatically accept all cookie banners. This is possible with the GDPR Auto cookie consent plugin for Chrome, Edge and Chromium.

If you have a Mac, please follow the instructions for managing cookies provided by Apple. Or install a Pi-hole®.

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