What Info Do Cookies Collect?

Curious what info cookies collect? Hint: it's not all personal data.

A cookie's contents are determined by the specific website that created that cookie. Contents vary from site to site. As a general rule, cookies contain random alphanumeric text characters.

Cookies are intended to help you access a site faster and more efficiently. For example, cookies can store information to help you enter a site without having to log in again. In effect, cookies tell the website that your browser has been to the site before. It doesn't need to know your exact identity. To find out more about this function, please check out the manage cookies section.

Do cookies collect personal information?

When created, cookies normally don't contain any personal information. They don't scan your computer or do any kind of investigation to find out your personal information. Any personal information they might contain is a result of your own input on a website.

Most of the time, when a cookie does store personal information, this information is coded in such a way that it's unreadable to any third party who happens to access your cookie folder. The only computer that can read and decode the information is the server that created the cookie in the first place.

Some website servers use a combination of methods to save your information as a cookie. They might create a cookie with unique but anonymous content on your browser, or they may create a file on the server that logs that unique but anonymous content alongside any personal information you've provided.

How secure are cookies?

In addition to encrypting any information stored in cookies, some websites add extra layers of security to browsers' cookie handling processes. This can include instructions to store only anonymous but unique content on local cookies or store personal information on the website's server and make it accessible only by matching with it the anonymous cookie stored on your computer.

View a demonstration of how personal data linked to a cookie can provide you with personalized content on a web page.