Should You Accept Cookies?

They may be for Cookie Monster, but they might not be for you.

Rachel Piazza, Staff Writer

Ever since the start of the internet, there has been data collection and data collection means cookies. Browser cookies are little bits of information gathered by a website that record things such as your activity, allowing the site to personalize your experience. However, in many cases, the website user must accept cookies in order to have this logged or even to access the website itself. 

It’s important to understand why these cookies are important and when you should accept them.

But before getting to that, we must understand exactly what cookies are. According to the FTC, a cookie is “information saved by your web browser. When you visit a website, the site may place a cookie on your web browser so it can recognize your device in the future. If you return to that site later on, it can read that cookie to remember you from your last visit and keep track of you over time.”

Cookies are the reason YouTube remembers your account and why, when you search for something on Amazon, next thing you know it shows up in an advertisement on Facebook. Cookies are a useful tool for both website users and creators.

 But why do we sometimes need to give websites permission to use them? 

The General Data Protection Regulation was created by the EU to protect data subjects (individuals whom information is collected on). Companies must comply with the data subject’s wishes on how their data is collected and processed. And this means that cookies, being little text files of data, must be given permission  by the website user to collect data. 

Therefore, many international websites require users to accept cookies. Some states, such as California, also have individual privacy laws requiring permission to use cookies. 

In general, it is a good idea to accept cookies, as doing so can do nothing but enhance your experience as long as you’re on a website you trust. 

If you don’t completely trust the website, take a moment to read through their policy. Websites that ask you to accept cookies also will have a link to take you to a page listing what their cookies are used for. A lot of times, website owners can get away with stealing information by hiding little details in these lists. It’s generally a good idea to read through it before clicking that “accept” button.

So, next time you click on a website that asks you to accept cookies, think through if you’re comfortable sharing some information with this site… and be grateful for the laws that are allowing you to be aware that data is being collected.