How Cookies Track You on the Web and What to do About it

Originally published at — October 22, 2020.

No matter which browser you use, may it be Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari or any other, you must have collected enough cookies up from visiting different websites. If you ever happen to go to Settings and check up the cookies your browser has saved you may be surprised to see a long list of cookies listed in there.

What are cookies?

Although most cookies are harmless, some stick around in your browser for longer intervals and track your browsing activities. These cookies are called third-party cookies and they track your web activity.

To understand better on third-party or tracking cookies let us have a look at other types of cookies.

Different types of cookies

  • Based on their purpose, there are basically two types of cookies, necessary and non-necessary. The necessary cookies are the ones that are essential for the functioning of a website, and the non-necessary cookies are the ones that are added additionally by the website and are not really important for the functioning of the website.
  • Based on their origin, cookies can be divided into first-party and third-party cookies. First-party cookies are set by the website itself that the user is currently visiting, say, check whether the user is logged in or not. Whereas third-party cookies are put in by other websites that track the user for targeting relevant advertisements.
  • Based on their duration, cookies can be divided into two, persistent and session cookies. Session cookies are set when the user starts a session and are temporary cookies. They expire once the browser is closed and the session ends. Persistent cookies, on the other hand, stay on the user’s browser for a longer period and only die when they reach their expiration period.

What GDPR says about the cookies?

GDPR ensures that when websites use cookies,

  • The name and type of cookies used. There are many types of cookies available, the ones used should be specified in a cookie list along with the cookie name and ID.
  • The purpose of the cookies used. Along with the type, the purpose of each cookie used should also be specified in the cookie list.
  • Cookie duration. Some cookies die out after a user session and some are persistent ones, that stay along for a year or so. The duration to which a cookie will stay in your browser must be specified.
  • The whereabouts of the data shared through the cookies should be specified.
  • Cookie rejection and acceptance policy should be mentioned. Users should know how to opt-out of cookies.

What to do about these cookies?

In different browsers, there are different mechanisms present to block cookies and third-party cookies of websites. Note that, blocking all cookies might make the website malfunction, as some cookies are necessary for the functioning of the website.

Let us see how to block cookies for different websites,

Google Chrome

You can also view all the cookies collected from different websites and delete them.

Microsoft Edge


Internet Explorer


For step by step guidance, please refer to Ways to Block Cookies in Different Browsers.

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