Newsletter Archives

  • How to manage your browser cookies


    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    Browser cookies can be helpful or harmful, depending on how and why they’re used in your browser. The key lies in taking control of them.

    You probably already know that Web browsers use cookies to save certain information. Over the years, cookies have developed a bad rep because many websites and advertisers use them to track your online activities for the purpose of sending you ads and other targeted content.

    But cookies can also help you by storing key details at websites that you frequently use. The trick here is knowing which cookies are good and which are bad, and how to manage them in general.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.16.0, 2023-04-17).

  • Cookies and privacy

    Excellent analysis from our own ch100. Hey, I never knew that….


    I am raising this issue to start a debate, I am not claiming to have authoritative knowledge in this area, although I did a little bit of research and I have preferred settings which I mention below.

    Cookies are important in the context of the ongoing discussions about privacy and how advertising companies are trying to take advantage of technology for their benefit and indirectly for the benefit of the users who use those services.

    It is so important, that the European Union issued legislation requiring any web site which is supposed to be rendered by an EU citizen needs to have a warning for the end-user that that site uses cookies.

    That warning message is redundant to a large extent, because virtually each current web site uses cookies and like everything that is too much, tends to be ignored by the end-user.

    The warning may be useful to those users who have never browsed a web site before or have very limited experience with the web sites.

    There are only 2 types of Cookies:
    –          First-party Cookies
    –          Third-party-Cookies

    First-party cookies are almost always required for the good functionality of any web site and moving from one page to another within the same site.

    Third-party cookies are optional and they can be disabled safely in most cases, although Microsoft has got sneaky and made them “required” to a certain extent. At least this is their claim.

    The third-party cookies are those used by advertisers and sometimes named “tracking cookies”.

    Another important element is if the Cookies are persistent from one session to another. Generally speaking, persistent first-party cookies are useful in storing the user password and form data from one session to another on the same web site which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on perspective.

    Persistent third-party cookies serve only the advertiser, but also the end-user in case that user needs to be repeatedly reminded of a certain product (who needs that functionality?).

    To distinguish between them, the non-persistent cookies are often name “Session Cookies” while the others are named “Persistent Cookies”. They can be either First Party or Third Party cookies.

    Different browsers have different settings and it is useful to mention that IE is the only browser implementing an RFC largely obsolete now, in which third-party cookies are allowed with certain conditions.

    Google has been accused and admitted guilt in cheating the RFC and over-riding IE settings in code and since then the standard has become obsolete.

    Google Bypassing User Privacy Settings

    Who is not following standards. Microsoft or Google? The correct answer is both.

    To overcomplicate things, there is also a setting named “Do not track” which is optional and  I am not recommending it to be enabled, as it has the same effect with email spam, under which the spammers are trying to see which email addresses exist from replies or from opening links containing images.

    Recommended settings in my view – naming from IE, similar settings in other browsers:

    First party-cookies – Accept
    Third-party cookies – Block
    Always allow session cookies – Disabled

    What this means:

    Allow First-party Cookies as instructed by the web site – persistent or not

    Do not allow Third-party cookies, not even in session. If this creates a problem, allow them in session only, never permanent, but it tends to be complicated to configure.


    1.       Safari introduced another variation and Firefox implemented it, I tend to go with it when using those browsers, although it is mostly experimental for me. That setting is Accept third-party cookies: from visited (which include advertisers, but only if visited directly, not referred by other sites. It is Safari’s default. This is a grey area, so please make up your own mind and set it according to your preference. The safe setting for privacy, hated by advertisers, is to not allow any third-party cookies.

    2.       Google Chrome and Firefox and Edge come out of the box with Allow all cookies, first party and third party.
    Are they so dangerous if Firefox allows them out of the box? Firefox also defaults to having telemetry (Enable Firefox Health Report, Enable Crash Reporter) enabled. Google Chrome is probably the same, but I don’t use it so much to know about those settings.

    A good explanation about various privacy settings in Firefox is here