What is a cookie?
A cookie is a text file that contains a small amount of information which is downloaded to the browser on your computer or mobile phone (referred to here as a “device”) from a website’s computer and is stored on your device’s hard drive. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser’s preferences allow it. To protect your privacy, your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other websites.
When you visit a website it will check to see if its cookie(s) are on your hard drive. Cookies do lots of different jobs like letting you navigate between pages efficiently, remembering your preferences and generally improving your user experience. They are also useful as they can help companies check online traffic flow.
Users have the opportunity to set their devices to accept all cookies, to notify them when a cookie is issued, or not to receive cookies at any time. If you choose not to receive cookies at any time it means that certain personalised features may not be provided to you, so you may not be able to take full advantage of all the website’s features. Each browser is different, so check the “Help” menu of your browser to learn how to change your cookie preferences.
Are cookies dangerous?
No. Cookies are small pieces of text. They are not computer programs, and they can’t be executed as code. Also, they cannot be used to spread viruses, and modern versions of both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape browsers allow users to set their own limits on the number of cookies saved on their hard drives.
Can cookies threaten a user’s privacy?
Although cookies are stored on the computer’s hard drive they cannot access it – so a cookie can’t read other information saved on the hard drive, or get a user’s e-mail address, etc. They only contain as much information as the users themselves have disclosed to a certain website and this information is transferred to the server.
A server cannot set a cookie for a domain (website) that it is not a member of. However, users quite often find cookies in their computer files from websites that they have never visited. These cookies are usually set by companies that sell internet advertising on behalf of other websites. Therefore it may be possible that a user’s information is passed to third party web sites without the user’s knowledge or consent, such as information on internet surfing habits. This is the most common reason for people rejecting or fearing cookies.
If you wish to restrict or block the cookies on our website, or any other website, you can do this through your browser settings. The Help function within your browser should tell you how.
Information supplied by cookies can help us to analyse the profile of our visitors and provide you with a better user experience.
How to reject cookies
There are a number of websites which contain comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of browsers. You will also find details on how to delete cookies from your computer as well as more general information about cookies. For information on how to do this on the browser of your mobile phone you will need to refer to your handset manual.
Please be aware that restricting cookies may impact on the functionality of the United in the Community website and other websites that you visit.