This series on internet cookies is for people who seek clarification about them. Why they exist, where they came from, what they are used for, the different types of cookies and how cookies relate to the EU GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Regulation).
In part 1 of this seriest on internet cookies we will explore the history of internet cookies.
In Part 2 we will look at the types of cookies and similar technologies.
In Part 3 we will look at the legal side of internet cookies i.e. the so-called “Cookie-Law”.
In part 4 we will share the process of deleting cookies.
What are cookies and what are they used for?
An internet cookie is a small text file that contains a random set of numbers and letters. It normally has a maximum size of 4KB.
The most correct name for a cookie is a “HTTP cookie“. They can also be called web cookie, browser cookie, internet cookie or just cookie.
Cookies are saved in your browser. They are placed (set/stored/saved) there by websites you visit and they can record information about your online behaviour. This includes what you click on, what you put into your shopping cart, how much time you spend on a page, your preferred language etc.
EXAMPLE: YouTube sets a cookie in your browser which is used to authenticate you, so YouTube knows it’s you and it also saves your volume settings, amoung other things.
Why are Cookies called Cookies? (A brief history).
According to a man named Lou Montulli he came up with the term “cookie” because it performed a similar function to something known as a “magic cookie“. A magic cookie passes small amounts of information between programs that communicate with each other. The information is not necessarily sent back and forth continuously, but at differing intervals. Montulli used this concept and incorporated “cookies” into an internet browser he was developing, when working at a company called Netscape (at the time, in 1994, it was called Mosaic Communications).
This is what a cookie does, it passes information from your browser to the website you are looking at (see YouTube example above). This is how a website remembers which language you prefer, or your login details, because the information is saved in a cookie and the cookie is saved in your browser. When you visit a website, the website asks your browser if it stored a cookie in your browser with information, like your login details. Like a magic cookie, a cookie passes information between programs (your browser and the website) at differing times. Where the term “magic cookie” came from is not the question here, you’ll have to keep searching the web.
Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog post are solely those of the author. The author is not a lawyer, and thus, this inforamtion is not legal advice. If you need legal advice on this topic, then please contact a lawyer in the country in which you reside, or do business in.