What are cookies?
For almost any website to work properly, it needs to collect certain basic information on its users. To do this, a site will create files known as cookies – which are small text files – on its users’ computers. These cookies are designed to allow the website to recognize its users on subsequent visits, or to authorize other designated websites to recognize these users for a particular purpose.
Cookies do a lot of different jobs which make your experience of the internet much smoother and more interactive. For instance, they are used to remember your preferences on sites you visit often, to remember your user ID , and to help you navigate between pages more efficiently. Some data collected is designed to detect browsing patterns and approximate geographical location to improve user experience.
Some websites may also contain images called ‘web beacons’ (also known as ‘clear gifs’). Web beacons only collect limited information, including a cookie number, a timestamp, and a record of the page on which they are placed. Websites may also carry web beacons placed by third party advertisers. These beacons do not carry any personally identifiable information and are only used to track the effectiveness of a particular campaign (for example by counting the number of visitors).
We collect a number of cookies from our users for various reasons, not least to track our own performance – but also to let us serve you content tailored to your own specifications, hopefully improving your overall experience of the website. Amongst other things, the cookies we use allow users to register to make comments, allow us to calculate how many visitors we have and how long they stay on our site.
What types of cookie are there and which ones do we use?
There are two types of cookie:
Persistent cookies remain on a user’s device for a set period of time specified in the cookie. They are activated each time that the user visits the website that created that particular cookie.
Session cookies are temporary. They allow website operators to link the actions of a user during a browser session. A browser session starts when a user opens the browser window and finishes when they close the browser window. Once you close the browser, all session cookies are deleted.
Cookies also have, broadly speaking, four different functions and can be categorised as follow: ‘strictly necessary’ cookies, ‘performance’ cookies, ‘functionality’ cookies and ‘targeting’ or ‘advertising’ cookies.
Strictly necessary cookies are essential to navigate around a website and use its features. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to use basic services like registration or shopping baskets. These cookies do not gather information about you that could be used for marketing or remembering where you’ve been on the internet.
Examples of how we use ‘strictly necessary’ cookies include:
Setting unique identifiers for each unique visitor, so site numbers can be analysed.
Allowing you to sign in to The Independent website as a registered user.
Performance cookies collect data for statistical purposes on how visitors use a website; they don’t contain personal information such as names and email addresses, and are used to improve your user experience of a website.
Here are some examples of how we use performance cookies:
Gathering data about visits to the website, including numbers of visitors and visits, length of time spent on the site, pages clicked on or where visitors have come from.
For comparison with other websites using data collected by industry-accepted measurement and research companies.
Information supplied by performance cookies helps us to understand how you use the website; for example, whether or not you have visited before, what you looked at or clicked on and how you found us. We can then use this data to help improve our services. We generally use independent analytics companies to perform these services for us and when this is the case, these cookies may be set by a third party company (third party cookies).
If you have registered with the website we can combine the data from the web analytics services and their cookies with the information you have supplied to us, so that we can make your experience more personal by recommending certain articles to you based on your reading behavior or tailoring your emails with content you might find more interesting. We would only do this if you have given us permission to communicate with you. Sometimes the data used from the web analytics companies has been collected before you registered or signed in. In these cases, if we use this data to identify you, we use it only in accordance with our privacy notice.
Functional cookies allow users to customize how a website looks for them: they can remember usernames, language preferences and regions, and can be used to provide more personal services like local weather reports and traffic news.
Here are some examples of how we use functionality cookies:
Storing your user preferences on Your Account page
Remembering if you’ve been to the site before so that messages intended for first-time users are not displayed to you.
How do I control my cookies?
You should be aware that any preferences will be lost if you delete all cookies and many websites will not work properly or you will lose some functionality. We do not recommend turning cookies off when using our website for these reasons.
Most browsers accept cookies automatically, but you can alter the settings of your browser to erase cookies or prevent automatic acceptance if you prefer. Generally you have the option to see what cookies you’ve got and delete them individually, block third party cookies or cookies from particular sites, accept all cookies, to be notified when a cookie is issued or reject all cookies. Visit the ‘options’ or ‘preferences’ menu on your browser to change settings, and check the following links for more browser-specific information.