Cookies consist of pieces of text, often including unique identifiers, that are sent by web servers to web browsers, and which may then be sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. It enables the website to remember your actions and preferences (such as language, font size and other display preferences) over a period of time, so you don’t have to keep re-entering them whenever you come back to the site or browse from one page to another.
Cookies can be used by web servers to identity and track users as they navigate different pages on a website and to identify users returning to a website.
Cookies may be either “persistent” cookies or “session” cookies. A persistent cookie consists of a text file sent by a web server to a web browser, which will be stored by the browser and will remain valid until its set expiry date (unless deleted by the user before the expiry date). A session cookie, on the other hand, will expire at the end of the user session, when the web browser is closed.
Cookies are harmless. They cannot introduce viruses on your computer.
Cookies do not contain any information that personally identifies you, but personal information that we store about you may be linked, by us, to the information stored in and obtained from cookies.
We may use the information we obtain from your use of our cookies for the following purposes:
- To recognise your computer when you visit our website;
- To track you as you navigate our website;
- To improve the website’s usability (making it easier to register multiple participants);
- To analyse the use of our website.
Most browsers allow you to refuse to accept cookies. For example:
- in Internet Explorer you can refuse all cookies by clicking “Tools”, “Internet Options”, “Privacy”, and selecting “Block all cookies” using the sliding selector;
- in Firefox you can block all cookies by clicking “Tools”, “Options”, and un-checking “Accept cookies from sites” in the “Privacy” box.
Blocking all cookies will, however, have a negative impact upon the usability of many websites.
You can also delete cookies already stored on your computer:
- in Internet Explorer, you must manually delete cookie files (you can find instructions for doing so at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/278835);
- in Firefox, you can delete cookies by, first ensuring that cookies are to be deleted when you “clear private data” (this setting can be changed by clicking “Tools”, “Options” and “Settings” in the “Private Data” box) and then clicking “Clear private data” in the “Tools” menu.
Obviously, doing this may have a negative impact on the usability of many websites.
More info regarding cookies: How Internet Cookies Work