How do Cookies affect your Internet browsing?

We are all tired of seeing the “Accept cookies” message. But: how do they affect our browsing? What happens if we reject them?

HOW DO COOKIES AFFECT YOUR INTERNET BROWSING?

We all constantly surf the internet and we get that annoying notice of “Accept cookies” to continue. Let’s start at the beginning: we cannot talk about cookies without knowing exactly what we mean.

WHAT ARE COOKIES?

Well, we can define a cookie as a small text file where certain information is stored.  The different browsers that exist today (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari…) have the ability to read the information contained in these files and send their content to a web page when requested.

Similarly, browsers have the ability to write information to these files when prompted by a web page.

Summarizing it, we can say that a cookie is a data storage and retrieval device on the different devices (mobile, tablet, PC) of the user.

IS IT MANDATORY TO INFORM AND OBTAIN THE CONSENT OF COOKIES IN ALL CASES?

No. They are exempted from the obligation to report cookies:

1. Used for the sole purpose of transmitting a communication through an electronic communications network.
2. Strictly necessary for the provider of an information society service to provide a service expressly for the subscriber or user.

But not only cookies store and retrieve our data, there are different devices within browsers and web pages that collect our data.

Users are increasingly taking into account the danger that the use of cookies has for their privacy, and have begun to block them through the famous advertising blockers that the network is populating.

For this reason, we are assisting in the development of other data storage and retrieval techniques instead of the cookies already explained, in order to avoid blocking the use of cookies by users.

Next, we explain some of the most used techniques:

1. Flash cookies and local shared objects: Taking advantage of the fact that a large number of user terminals have the Adobe Flash video playback plug-in  , a website that uses this technology could store and retrieve information in the same way as if a cookie were In any case, even on computers in which the use of cookies has been disabled.

2. Etags and header enrichment: Etag (entity tags) is part of the HTTP protocol. This is  one of the mechanisms that HTTP uses to validate the web cache. For example, if we have visited a website with an image and said image has not changed, this image is not “downloaded” again in the user’s browser, but the user will see the version of the image stored in the cache of their browser. .

3. Canvas  fingerprinting:  Since the arrival of the HTML5 standard and its support by the main browsers, there is the possibility of taking advantage of the capabilities of this technology to  identify the user’s browser.

4. Detection of sources: Given the ability of many systems to be customized, the sources that each team may have will vary significantly from one team to another. In the same way, given the differences of each team, the measurements (invaluable to the human eye) between characters and the space that a certain text occupies can be used to obtain a unique identifier of a browser.

5. Browser cache:  As its name suggests, this technique consists of storing data directly in the browser’s cache.

6. Web GL:  This technique  consists of representing a certain figure in 3D within the browser.

If you are interested in these new methods, you have much more information about supercookies on the next page of H&A, experts in Digital Law.

Cookies are data storage and retrieval devices on the recipient’s terminal equipment. It is mandatory to inform and obtain consent.

NEW COOKIES POLICY TO PROTECT USER PRIVACY

As of October 31, 2020, it is necessary to comply with the new Guidelines 05/2020 of the Spanish Agency for Data Protection on Cookies.

You can find all the information relevant to this new law in the AEPD Cookies Guide created by H&A, in the section of its blog specialized in digital law and technological innovation.

We give you a brief summary of the changes and the main conditions.

This new update is based, in addition to the measures already established at the time such as  consent  or the  duty of information,  on the following  new features:

• The aspect of consent is reinforced.  The tacit consent is not valid: the tacit “continue browsing” as a means of consent is NOT valid.

• Updating of consent:   the consent given cannot last longer than 24 months, but must be renewed.

• “Cookie walls” are not allowed:  access to the service and its functionalities cannot be conditioned on the user consenting to the use of cookies.

• Websites aimed at minors.  Consent directed to parents or legal guardians.

How has the new cookie law affected you? Are you making correct use of them? We await your answers.

Read More:  The 5 most common IT problems of SMEs (and solutions!)

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