Posted in on 5 December 2014
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No, they are simply text files and are not (for example) viruses or Trojans. They cannot in themselves do anything to your computer; they can only be interacted with by your web browser and the website which set them on your computer. It would be impossible to use most websites without allowing cookies. Amazon, eBay, Gmail, Facebook all store cookies on your PC in order to make them work.
However cookies are also used by third parties to keep track of how people browse the internet more generally, not just how they visit a specific website but where they go afterwards and which other websites they use. This specific kind of monitoring uses what are called tracking cookies.
From now on legally any website in the European Union will need to ask for your permission before storing any cookies on your PC. As the video says this pretty much means pop-ups or other flashing banners on websites to grab your attention then a few pages worth of explanation – what are cookies, why it wants to store cookies and why you shouldn’t click ‘no’.
If would have been highly beneficial for all involved if those who composed the legislation where not complete idiots.
For those unsure what to do with their website the best information I’ve found so far has been on Civic UK – http://civicuk.com/cookie-law/configuration – which has a guide for installing a floating message box which informs users of the change in law and how it affects them.