To Accept or Not to Accept Website Cookies?

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When someone asks if you want a cookie, your answer will most likely be “Yes!”.

But when a website asks you to accept cookies, it’s a different thing altogether. Should you? Shouldn’t you?

First things first:


What are website cookies?

Cookies are small text files sent by a website that end up stored on your computer. They were first used to keep track of first-time visitors to a website so they wouldn’t have to identify themselves every time they visit the website again.

Seems pretty harmless, right?

With time, websites started using cookies for additional purposes:

To personalize your web pages by saving your selections and preferences.

To help you resume where you left off the last time you visited a website and remember your login.

To keep records of your personal information; this is mostly used by online shopping sites to memorize your shopping cart selections while you continue browsing.

To track your activity across multiple websites in order to gather information about your interests and target you with tailored ads.



Should you be concerned about security?

Let’s make one thing clear: Allowing a cookie to your device doesn’t give anyone access to your computer or mobile.

However, cookies may share some of your personal information if you allowed a website to use them.

In this case, the only concern from using cookies is privacy violation. Some websites share information collected from cookies without your consent and use this data to profit from targeted advertisements.


Know your rights

Lebanon’s Law No.81 related to “Electronic transactions and personal data” states that any website collecting personal information has to inform users about the reason for collecting this data, the intended use for it, and whether it is to be shared with any third party.

Moreover, websites aren’t allowed to process any information that discloses the identity of a user unless a) the user explicitly allows the website to do so; b) the website is licensed to process data; c) the information is used to create a medical profile; or d) a court order allows this.

In addition, several international laws, in particular the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), categorize cookies as personal data because they can help identify an individual, and as such, cookies cannot be used with your consent.

By end-2019, almost every website using cookies will request your permission to collect and process your personal data.


So what should you do when a cookie notification pops up?  

Accept it only if you are browsing a trusted website.

In case you are worried some sites that use cookies are already collecting data from your device, you can choose to clear your internet browsing history – specifically clearing “cookies and other site data.”


Note: You will have to log in again to all your accounts, from your email to your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, etc., so make sure you remember all your passwords to save time.

* Your email will be stored in an external database