What is a Cookie?
Cookies are used for a varying range of tasks, and common tasks include letting you navigate between pages efficiently, storing your preferences, managing an e-commerce shopping cart and generally improving your experience on a website. Their role is to make your interaction with the website faster and easier. Without cookies, a website may think you are a new visitor every time you move to a new page on the site, e.g. when you enter your login details and move to another page it won’t recognise you and it won’t be able to keep you logged in. Cookies can also store information on your location and browsing habits and some websites use this information to target specific advertising and marketing messages towards you.
How do cookies work?
A cookie is a simple text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device by a website; only that website’s server will be able to retrieve or read the contents of that cookie. Each cookie is unique to your web browser. It will contain some anonymous information such as a unique identifier and the site name and some digits and numbers.
Types of cookie
First party cookies – these are set by the website, you are visiting and they can only be read by that site.
Third party functional cookies – these are set by a different organisation to the owner of the website you are visiting. For example, the website might use a third party analytics company who will set their own cookie to perform this service. The website you are visiting may also contain content embedded from, for example YouTube or Vimeo, and these sites may set their own cookies.
Third party marketing and advertising cookies – sometimes a website may use a third party advertising network to deliver targeted advertising on the site. These may also have the capability to track your browsing across different sites. PCI stresses that it does not use advertising cookies and will not track your behaviour beyond our website.
Session cookies – are stored only temporarily during a browsing session and are deleted from the user’s device when the browser is closed.
Persistent cookies – are saved on your computer for a fixed period (usually a year or longer) and are not deleted when the browser is closed. They are used where a website needs to know your information beyond just one browsing session. For example, we use this type of cookie to store your name, so that we can remember you for your next site visit.
Flash cookies – some websites use Adobe Flash Player to deliver video and game content to their users. Adobe utilise their own cookies, which are not manageable through your browser settings but are used by the Flash Player for similar purposes, such as storing preferences or tracking users.
Types of cookie used on this website
A cookie to manage Google Analytics
A cookie to manage the cookie display message
A cookie to manage AddThis, the social network sharing system
Turning cookies off
Whilst cookies are generally quite harmless we appreciate that some users may wish to disable them, particularly to avoid being targeted for certain advertising and marketing. It is possible to block some or all cookies and to delete cookies already stored on your machine. Managing your cookies is done differently across different browsers and so we direct you to the websites of the most common web browsers as outlined in the table below. Please be aware that you may lose some functions on some websites as a result of altering cookie settings.
Useful sites for further information on cookies