Cookies! Did you work up an appetite? They sound delicious don’t they?
I hope not, because I’m not going to talk about cookies, however appetizing they seem. The Cookies I am talking about are those that all sites ask you if you accept their use.
In this non-technical article I will explain everything you need to know as an internet user! Their origin, what they are for and show that they should not have such a negative connotation as they seem to have today.
Hope you like it!
The origin of the name:
Magic Cookie was an expression already used in UNIX systems. It was introduced by programmer Lou Mountulli to describe a data packet that is sent and received unchanged. The term Cookies is a derivation of this system.
Cookies began to be used in practical terms in 1994 and were responsible for the introduction of the shopping cart in online shopping. Allowing the data to be recorded as the user navigates to other pages of the website. (I will explain it later).
But what are they?
Cookies are small files that are sent by the websites you visit and are stored in your browser. They allow the website to acquire information about your navigation and provide different experiences. I will highlight the following:
- Store your preferences (such as language, currency or region);
- Opening a session (login) and keeping it open when changing pages;
- Store your search terms;
- Maintain a shopping cart while browsing different pages;
- Make online payments;
Keeping some information from your browsing session or not (I will talk more about this in typologies), they are quite powerful tools when it comes to online development.
Why do I hear bad things about them?
Often cookies are generalized because they are used to collect information from users and are sold to advertising companies that, through them, can create targeted ads according to the user’s preferences.
Never noticed this? Try searching for “bags” on Google and opening a link or two. On the next sites you visit that have ads available, ads for luggage will appear. This is only possible through Cookies.
And is that bad?
I don’t think it is. However, there must be a transparent policy on the use of such data. They must be private and the user must be able to know what their information is being used for.
But beware! Cookies do not exist only for these commercial purposes.
There are several types of cookies. Let’s see some of them:
This type are only present during the “browsing” session on the website. They serve to maintain your preferences while you have the site open. They expire normally when you close the browser.
Those of this type, instead of expiring like the session ones, remain on your computer even after closing the browser. Cookies of this type are able to collect information about your browsing habits, searches, etc. They are also responsible for keeping sessions open on sites like Facebook, even when you close your browser, so you don’t have to log in every time you visit.
These cookies are only processed over encrypted connections (HTTPS). They do not transmit any data over unsecured connections.
This typology refers to cookies that are added to websites by systems external to them. That is, other websites than the one you are visiting. Already signed into a website with Facebook credentials? It is through these cookies that this is possible. It also allows tools such as Google analytics to analyze site navigation to provide their usage data.
Since 2012, Law 46/2012 has been in force in the Diário da República, which complies with the privacy principles applied by the European Union. Therefore, in this law, it is described the obligation of websites to disclose their collection of cookies in a transparent manner and the use they attribute to them.
It is then mandatory that all websites have a notice that directs them to their policy of using them.
The fines for the violation of this law range from 1,500 € to 25,000 € for individuals and € 5,000 to € 5,000,000 for collective persons.
Cookies are indispensable for the current navigation of websites. It would be impossible to stop using them on the most modern websites. Have you ever imagined a store without a shopping cart? Having to login each time you close your browser? Or even every time you change the page? Do you get product ads that you have little or no interest in? A completely different world from which we live today.
They are, without a doubt, a very powerful tool to achieve (all of us) a more personal and personalized presence in online browsing.
I hope it has helped you to better understand the internet world. Do not forget to comment!