e-Privacy directive

Is the law which applies to how cookies and similar technologies used for storing information on a user’s equipment, such as their computer or mobile device, are used. The regulations which changed on 26 May 2011 have been implements to safeguard privacy online and protect web users from unwanted marketing.

Many websites use cookies in order to improve your user experience by enabling the website to ‘remember’ you, either for the duration of your visit (using a ‘session cookie’) or for repeat visits (using a ‘persistent cookie’).

Cookies are used to perform varying functions, auto-filling forms, counting visitors, storing shopping basket items, personalising content, targeting advertising, and for authentication and security. Cookies can however improve the user experience in many ways.  Stored information can aid your navigation between web pages, by storing your user preferences the interaction between you and the website is made faster and easier. 

If a website didn't use cookies, it would count you has a new visitor every time you move to a new page on the site, resulting in an inefficient and seemingly disjointed experience. 

EG. if entering a site that requires you to use login details, once you navigate to another page you would find that you would be no longer be logged in.

Some websites will also use cookies to enable them to target advertising or marketing messages based on demographics. (EG. your location and/or browsing habits).

What is in a cookie?

A cookie is a simple text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device when you visit a website. They contain unique information that can be used to know that you have visited a site before thus allowing a website to remember things like your preferences or what’s in your shopping basket.

What to do if you don’t want cookies to be set

Some people find the idea of a website storing information on their computer or mobile device intrusive, particularly when this information is stored and used by a third party without them knowing. If you prefer, it is possible to block some or all cookies, or even to delete cookies that have already been set; but you need to be aware that you might lose some functions of that website.

How do I remove cookies or change my browser settings?

Although not an exhaustive list the below links may help you understand how to manage cookies within your browser.