A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers which often includes an anonymised, unique identifier. This means that it can be used to identify you without revealing your personal information. When you visit a website, it asks permission to store a cookie in the cookies section of your hard drive. Cookies are widely used on the internet to make websites work, to make them work more efficiently, or to provide information about your usage of the site to the site owner or other third parties. For example, if you add items to a shopping basket, a cookie allows the website to remember what items you’re buying, or if you log in to a website, a cookie may recognise you later on so that you do not have to put in your password again.
A third-party cookie is one that is associated with a different domain or website than the one that you visit. For example, on this site, we use third-party cookies built by Google to enable website analytics, but as our site is not on the Google domain, this makes their cookies “third-party” cookies. The Google Analytics cookie will recognise and count the number of people who visit our site, as well as providing other information such as how long visitors stay, where they move to on our site, and what pages receive the most visits. We cannot directly control how Google cookies behave.