Conscious Consumption: Cookies and how to protect your data

By Team 10


Most people spend a great deal of time every day searching the web, whether that be for the weather or perhaps a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Searching the web is relatively intuitive to any user, new or experienced. However, many don't know that data from their searches is being collected, let alone how it’s being collected. In this blog, we are going to teach you how to consciously consume content on the web by giving you a general overview of what cookies are and how to manage them to best protect your personal data.


What are Cookies?


The main types of cookies we are focusing on today are HTTP cookies. These cookies were specifically designed for internet browsing. More specifically, cookies enable Internet web browsers to track, save, and personalize information about a user's actions on cookie-enabled web pages. Cookies are intended to enhance the user experience; they let websites retrieve information like logins, passwords, and preferences. They also allow users to experience a more personalized shopping experience.


First & Third Party Cookies


Cookies aren’t all nice and gooey; they can track a user’s browsing history and collect enough data to paint a clear picture of a person's personal preferences and more. To better understand how this can occur, we first must differentiate between First-Party and Third-Party Cookies.


First- party cookies are generally safe as they are created by the website the user is browsing. This holds true as long as the user is on a legitimate website. These cookies only save the data a user provides to the website and perhaps their IP address.



Third-party cookies are a different story. They are created by websites that are different from the page the user is currently browsing. This is generally because these cookies are linked to ads running on that page. They work by embedding JavaScript from one website into another (usually through ads). If a user were to see five ads while browsing, it’s likely that five cookies are generated, even if the ads are never clicked. It’s these cookies that allow marketing and analytics companies to track an individual’s web browsing behavior from site to site.


For instance, if I were to be searching for a homemade cookie recipe, I might first go to BettyCrocker.com, then to FoodNetwork.com, and then to a personal blog. Let’s say I encounter an ad on BettyCrocker.com with a Third-Party Cookie; that means that all of the data from my search from BettyCrocker to the personal blog is tracked and recorded.


Cookies and Privacy


Privacy means something different to every user, and each user has a different comfort level with the amount of information they are comfortable sharing on the internet. If you are comfortable with your web browsing being tracked and receiving personalized ads as well as having websites collect your data for analytics, then there is no need to block them. However, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of your data being tracked, it is possible to block or remove third-party cookies that serve this purpose.

How to remove cookies in different browsers:

Google Chrome:


  • To block cookies Select Settings from the top right corner menu and select: "Privacy and security > Cookies and other site data" Block third-party cookies.

  • To remove cookies in Chrome: Cookies and other site data: See all cookies and site data > Remove everything >Clear all.

Firefox:

  • It has built-in blockers that stop third-party cookies. Users can also remove or block all cookies


  • To block all cookies in Firefox: Go to Options from the top right corner menu and select: Privacy & Security > Cookie and Site Data > Clear Data or Delete Cookies and Site Data when Firefox is closed.

Safari:


  • It has built-in blockers that stop third-party cookies. Users can also remove or block all cookies.

  • To block all cookies in Safari, go to Preferences > Privacy > Check Prevent cross-site tracking and Block all cookies. To remove cookies, select Manage website data under Cookies and website data and click Remove.


Conscious consumption is incredibly important as we move further into a society dominated by technology. It is crucial that you, as a frequent user of the web, know the implications of third-party cookies so you can make the choice to enable them or not.



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