What is a cookie?
Users' personal data is an asset that companies all wish to exploit. Cookies are tools designed for this purpose; but what is a cookie exactly?
Image illustrating the article What is a cookie?

Cookies are tracers that allow companies to collect data on the navigation of Internet users on the web.

How does it work?

During navigation, files can be stored by the server in the Internet user's browser in order to collect data on web navigation.

What are they used for?

Cookies provide websites with a memory, which aims to simplify the user experience. They allow the website to remember the content of your shopping cart for a certain period of time, or your information at each connection.
They also allow to provide suggestions tailored to the interests and needs of the user, thanks to the creation of a detailed profile of what is consulted.
They analyze the products viewed, the time spent on the website or the links clicked.

This information is a real added value for companies, and that is why it is shared and sometimes even resold among various partners.

italic text From a technical point of view, when we talk about "cookies" or "tracker", we are talking about :
HTTP cookies

  • Flash cookies
  • Results in the calculation of a unique identifier of the terminal based on elements of its configuration
  • Invisible pixels or web bugs
  • Identifiers generated by a software or an operating system, such as the serial number, MAC address, a unique terminal identifier or the set of data used to calculate a unique fingerprint of the terminal

italic text There are therefore several categories of cookies :

  • Strictly necessary cookies
  • Performance cookies
  • Functionality cookies
  • Marketing targeting cookies
  • Other unknown cookies

They are integrated into the user's browser when consulting a website, a mobile application or when installing or using a software. Even though it is an useful tool for marketing purposes, since it concerns the collect and processing of users' personal data the use of cookies need to follow a few strict rules. As such, here are the things to take into account when dealing with cookies for companies.

Stéphanie Exposito-Rosso

Wed Oct 27 2021