What is a cookie?
A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers which often includes an anonymised, unique identifier. This means that it can be used to identify you without revealing your personal information. When you visit a website, it asks permission to store a cookie in the cookies section of your hard drive.
Cookies are widely used on the internet to make websites work, to make them work more efficiently, or to provide information about your usage of the site to the site owner or other third parties. For example, if you add items to a shopping basket, a cookie allows the website to remember what items you’re buying, or if you log in to a website, a cookie may recognise you later on so that you don’t have to put in your password again.
Different types of cookies
Some cookies, known as “session cookies”, are stored only for the duration of your visit to a particular website. “Persistent cookies” can be stored in the cookie file of your browser for longer periods of time – sometimes until you clear your browser’s cache manually, depending on the lifetime of the specific cookie.
A third-party cookie is one that is associated with a different domain or website than the one that you visit. For example, on this site, we use third-party cookies built by Google to enable website analytics, but as our site is not on the Google domain, this makes their cookies “third-party” cookies. The Google Analytics cookie will recognise and count the number of people who visit our site, as well as providing other information such as how long visitors stay, where they move to on our site, and what pages receive the most visits. We cannot directly control how Google cookies behave.
In using Google Analytics cookies, it is our responsibility to ensure that you have access to the following information:
Google Analytics does not store any personal information about any website users. They offer a comprehensive review of their Analytics data privacy and security commitments in Google Support.
Using cookies for advertising
Cookies can make advertising more effective, helping us to reach our target audience and understand how well our campaigns are working. Cookies can also prevent you from seeing the same ad over and over again, which will help improve your experience browsing the web.
For further reading about cookie usage and your rights, we have collected the following resources:
The Information Commissioner’s Office provides information for members of the public regarding cookies. It also offers information to businesses and other organisations on what they must do to comply with EU cookies regulations.
The BBC WebWise information service offers pages about cookies. Google also publish details of all of the different types of cookies that they have developed, and that they offer to other organisations as third-party cookies.