What is a cookie and how is it used?
A cookie is a piece of text that is sent by a web server (e.g. this website) to the user’s Internet browser. The browser then automatically stores the cookie on the user’s computer, and automatically sends it back to the server whenever the user visits the website. By default, almost all web browsers allow cookies to be accepted automatically.
Greysolutions.it websites use or may use one or more of the types of cookies listed below. The cookies are categorized in accordance with Opinion 04/2012 on Cookie Consent Exemption, issued by the Article 29 Working Party in reference to the European Union (available here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2012/wp194_en.pdf):
- “session” cookies are temporarily stored on the user’s computer purely for technical and functional purposes. These cookies allow for the transmission of the necessary session identifiers in order to ensure safe and efficient browsing on the website; they are deleted at the end of the “session” (hence the name), when the browser is closed. By using this type of cookie, other computer techniques that are potentially detrimental to users’ privacy when browsing can be avoided.
- “persistent cookies” remain stored on the computer’s hard drive until their expiration date or deletion by the user/visitor. Persistent cookies allow any visitor (or any other user who uses the same computer) to be automatically recognized when they log on to the site. Many user-friendly features are provided through persistent cookies (for example, browser language preferences can be saved, or items can be stored in a shopping cart while making purchases online). Nevertheless, persistent cookies can also be used to deliver advertising to the user, and may even be used purposes of dubious legality. Users can set their browsers to accept/reject all cookies, or to prompt them each time a cookie is offered so that they can decide whether to accept it or not. In any case, users are able to change their default settings and disable cookies (that is, definitively block them) by setting their browsers to the highest level of protection.
These two types of cookies (session and persistent) can be subdivided even further:
- they are considered “first-party” cookies when they are set directly by the owner and/or manager of the website
- they are considered “third-party” cookies when they are created and set by sources other than the website the user has visited.
How do cookies work and how are they deleted?
Cookie functionality, as well as options for restricting or blocking cookies, can be managed by changing the settings of the user’s web browser.
In addition, users can visit the website www.aboutcookies.org for information on how to manage/delete cookies based on the web browser being used.
In order to delete cookies from the web browser on a smartphone or tablet, users must refer to the device’s instruction manual.
List of the cookies used on company websites in the Greysolutions
As described above, cookie types are not limited to just session cookies and persistent cookies. There are also third-party cookies, which fall under the exclusive responsibility of the organization that created them. They can be divided into the following macro categories:
- Analytics. These cookies are used to gather and analyze statistical information on logins/visits to the site. In some cases these cookies are associated with other information, such as login credentials for restricted areas (email address and password), in order to build a user profile (personal habits, sites that have been visited, content that has been downloaded, the types of interactions the user has had, etc.).
To cite one example, Google Inc. uses servers located around the United States or in other countries to store information that has been generated by cookies. This allows Google to gather aggregate statistical information, which can be useful in evaluating how the website is being used and what activities visitors engage in when on the website. Google reserves the right to transfer the information it gathers through cookies to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. Google guarantees that the user’s IP address will not be associated with any other data held by Google in order to build a more detailed user profile. Further information on privacy policies and the use of these types of cookies can be found directly on the websites of the organizations that create and manage them.
- Widgets. This category encompasses all those components that make up a program’s graphical user interface, with the aim of helping the user interact with the program itself. To cite an example, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter cookies are widgets. Further information on privacy policies and the use of these types of cookies can be found directly on the websites of the organizations that create and manage them.
- Advertising. All the cookies used to advertise on websites fall under this category, which includes Google and Tradedoubler, for example. Further information on privacy policies and the use of these types of cookies can be found directly on the websites of the organizations that create and manage them.
- Web beacons. This category encompasses fragments of code which allow a website to gather and transfer information through a request to the server for a graphic image. A website may utilize web beacons for various purposes, such as analysis of how the website is used, checking whether emails or web pages have been viewed, and statistical reporting on advertising and the personalization of advertising and content.