When we provide services, we want to make them easy, useful and reliable. Where services are delivered on the internet, this sometimes involves placing small amounts of information on your device, for example, computer or mobile phone. These include small text files known as cookies. They cannot be used to identify you personally, cannot carry viruses, or install malware.
A cookie is a piece of data sent to your device from a website. This means the website can recognise your device if you return to the same website. Cookies do not contain any personal information about you and cannot be used to identify an individual user. A cookie often includes a unique identifier, which is an anonymous number (randomly generated) and is stored on your device. Some expire at the end of your website session; others remain on your computer for longer.
These pieces of information are used to improve services for you through, for example:
- enabling a service to recognise your device so you don't have to give the same information several times during one task, e.g. filling out a web form or a web survey
- recognising that you may already have given a username and password so you don't need to do it for every web page
- measuring how many people are using services, so they can be made easier to use and there's enough capacity to ensure they are fast
- analysing anonymised data to help us understand how people interact with the different aspects of our online services so we can make them better
For more information about cookies or if you would like to learn how to remove cookies set on your device, visit: http://www.aboutcookies.org