What information do cookies collect?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

Cookies collect two main pieces of information: a unique user ID and the site name. The user ID is a string of characters that serves as a unique identifier for each visitor to a website. This ID allows the website to recognize and remember the user when they revisit the site. The site name refers to the domain or specific site that the cookie belongs to.

When you visit a website for the first time, a cookie is usually created and stored in your browser. This cookie contains the unique user ID and the site name. As you navigate through the website, the cookie is sent back and forth between your browser and the web server, allowing the website to retrieve the stored information.

The user ID is crucial for websites to personalize your browsing experience. It enables them to remember your preferences, such as language settings, theme choices, or items added to a shopping cart. For example, if you have selected a specific language on a website, the cookie will store this information and ensure that the site displays content in your preferred language the next time you visit.

The site name stored in the cookie helps websites differentiate between their own cookies and those from other sites. This is particularly important when multiple websites embed content from the same domain, such as advertisements or social media buttons. By associating the cookie with a specific site, the website can ensure that it retrieves the correct information and provides a personalized experience tailored to that specific site.

Cookies are essential for various website functionalities, including authentication, session management, and tracking user behavior. They allow you to stay logged in to websites without having to re-enter your credentials every time you visit. They also enable websites to track your browsing patterns and behavior, which can be used for various purposes such as targeted advertising or website analytics.

It’s important to note that cookies only collect the information they were designed to gather and do not typically contain personally identifiable information (PII) like your name, address, or email. Instead, they focus on tracking your interactions with the website and providing a customized experience based on your preferences.

Cookies collect a unique user ID and the site name to personalize your browsing experience and remember your preferences. They play a crucial role in authentication, session management, and tracking user behavior on websites. While they do not typically collect PII, they greatly enhance the functionality and personalization of websites.