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First-Party Cookies

What Are First-Party Cookies?

First-party cookies are small pieces of data created and stored on your device by the website you visit directly. 

Websites use third-party cookies to remember your settings and preferences, such as login information and items in a shopping cart. 

These cookies are set by the domain of the website you are visiting (i.e., the domain in the address bar) and are generally considered less intrusive than third-party cookies, which are set by domains other than the one you are visiting. 

First-party cookies help provide a smooth and personalized web browsing experience.

Third-party definition

First-party cookies are cookies set by the website that a visitor is on. The “first-party” in this case, is the same website that sets and reads the cookies. This is in contrast to third-party cookies, which are set by a third party to the website that the visitor is on and which often are used to track user behavior from site to site. – Osano

Purpose of First-Party Cookies

First-party cookies serve several key purposes, most of which aim to improve user experience and interaction with the website they’re visiting. 

These include: 

  • Session management. They help manage your session on a website. For example, if you’re logged into a service, first-party cookies keep you signed in as you navigate through different pages.
  • Personalization. They make it possible for websites to remember your preferences and settings (like language), providing a more personalized experience.
  • Shopping carts. For e-commerce sites, first-party cookies are essential in keeping track of the items you’ve added to your shopping cart as you continue browsing.
  • Analytics. Websites use these cookies to gather analytics data, like visitor numbers, pages they visit, and how they interact with the site. This information is used to improve the website and overall user experience.
  • Security. They help authenticate users, prevent fraudulent use of login credentials, and protect user data.

First-Party Cookies vs. Third-Party Cookies

The biggest difference between first-party and third-party cookies is who creates them and what they’re used for. 

Whereas first-party cookies are directly created by the site you’re visiting and used primarily to enhance user experience on that particular site, third-party cookies usually come from advertisers who want to track you across sites and retarget you with ads. 

First-party cookies are typically seen as more privacy-friendly than third-party cookies. This is because first-party cookies are limited to the website you’re visiting. On the other hand, third-party cookies can track you across multiple sites, often without your explicit consent or even awareness.

You can block both types of cookies (depending on your browser, third-party cookies might be blocked automatically), but blocking first-party cookies might stop the website from functioning properly. 

In other words, first-party cookies are mainly designed to improve your direct interaction with the website you’re visiting. Third-party cookies are used primarily for tracking and advertising across multiple sites.

Privacy of First-Party Cookies

First-party cookies are seen as more privacy-friendly than third-party cookies. 

Since first-party cookies are set by the website you’re visiting, there’s a direct relationship between you and the website in terms of data collection and usage. Data collected is generally used by the same website to understand your interactions with it and isn’t typically shared with multiple third parties. 

You can also typically read the website’s privacy policy to learn more about its cookies and the data collected through them. 

However, privacy concerns can still arise with first-party cookies, especially if they collect sensitive data without proper security measures or user consent. 

Improving Your Privacy When Dealing With First-Party Cookies

Here are some steps you can take to improve your privacy when interacting with first-party cookies:

  • Review website privacy policies. Read the privacy policies of websites you frequently use to understand how they use cookies and what data they collect.
  • Clear cookies regularly. Periodically clearing your cookies can prevent long-term tracking and accumulation of data. This can usually be done in your browser settings.
  • Opt out of tracking. Some websites offer the option to opt out of tracking cookies. Look for a privacy settings or cookie settings link, often found in the website’s footer.
  • Manage consent settings. When a website asks for your consent to use cookies, customize the settings instead of automatically accepting all cookies. Opt-out of non-essential cookies.

Completely blocking all cookies can sometimes stop websites from functioning, making them less user-friendly or even preventing access to certain features. Striking a balance between usability and privacy is key.