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To learn more about cookies, please visit All About Cookies, a free cookie resource. You can manage your cookies via your browser. You can delete cookies easily by following the steps on AboutCookies.org
What is a cookie?
A cookie is a very simple text file that gets downloaded onto your PC when you visit a website. They generally contain two bits of information: a site name and a unique user ID. Once the cookie is on your computer, the site "knows" that you have been there before and can then use that knowledge to tailor the experience that you have. The vast majority of commercial websites -- be they major online publishers, banks or ecommerce sites -- will use them.
What are they used for?
Cookies are used for many different functions including auto-filling forms, counting visitors, storing shopping basket items, personalising content, targeting advertising, recording user preferences and for authentication and security.
So what is an "essential" cookie?
The wording in the directive is broad, but the regulations specify that if cookies are necessary for carrying out or facilitating the transmission of a communication or is "strictly necessary" for providing an "information society service" requested by the user. Cookies likely to be deemed essential are those used for the shopping basket and checkout, those that provide security for online banking services and those that help ensure that your page loads quickly by distributing the workload.
What is a non-essential cookie?
Any cookies used for analytical purposes to count the number of visitors to a website, any cookies used by first party or third party advertisers, including affiliates, and cookies used to recognise the user when they return to a website so they receive a tailored greeting or optimised landing page. These are the cookies being targeted by the new EU legislation.
Information taken from Wired.co.uk