What are cookies? How do they affect my online privacy?
Cookies are files that are stored on your device to record your browsing activity. They are like little spies.
By recording your preferences they can make a website more relevant to you, for example by tailoring ads to
your age and gender. Your privacy is affected because these cookies are gathering information about you, often
without you realising it.
How can I manage my cookies and protect my online privacy?
Each browser you use will have its own cookies. You can prove this by visiting the same website in different browsers.
Consequently you manage your cookies at the browser level. Your browser will have a settings option. From there it will
be possible to delete part or all of your browser history. When visiting a new site you will be presented with options
as to what cookies you allow it to install. Some cookies will be essential for the site to work properly on your browser,
but you will have a choice as to which other cookies to allow. Remember that there is a tradeoff between helpfulness and
privacy, the more information a site has about you, the better the user experience for you.
What could go wrong if I don't protect my online privacy?
This rather depends on how much you mind a particular website collecting particular information about you.
There are scenarios when it could be awkward. Would you like your work computer recording the fact you had been on a
jobs website for example? As a rule of thumb you wouldn't want to give out too much information to too many people in real
life, the reasons are similar with your online privacy.
How could my online privacy be compromised?
The more personal the information, the greater the compromise. Particularly so when you don't know or trust the website very well.
Remember that cookies are like spies gathering information about you and reporting back to base. Think how many times you
will enter your postcode in, say, google maps. Or your age, or your streetname. And imagine you are giving this information to a
spy who never forgets it.
What measures can I take to protect my online privacy?
Clearing cookies is a good method for keeping your spy-count down. Be aware that you will be giving consent to sites when you visit
them for the first time so don't always say yes automatically. Be aware of programmes like C-Cleaner that can declutter your
computer and remove all the cookies for you. Do not give all your personal information out on sites you don't trust.