How do cookies track your browsing activity?

Control and manage cookies

Session cookies

Temporary cookies that automatically deleted after each Internet session ended are called session cookies. These are usually deleted when you close your browser.

If you activate session cookies for your browser, this has the advantage, for example, that an online shop remembers the products that you previously placed in the shopping cart. That can be practical, because without them the digital shopping cart would be empty every time a new subpage is accessed.

Nevertheless, you should be careful: If you do not end your Internet session or if you do not log out of the session, the session cookie will remain valid until you close your browser - your shopping cart, for example, could become visible to others if You have access to your device.

However, caution is advised, above all, with publicly accessible computers or mobile devices. If you do not log out of the website or the app, someone else can possibly damage your profile. In addition, social networks, for example, are often set so that your access data are saved even if you close the browser. Therefore: Always log out after using publicly accessible devices!

Third party cookies

However, cookies are not only placed by the companies whose pages you are actively visiting, but also by many other companies - so-called Third party providers. These are often advertising companies that can place advertising that is personally tailored to you in this way.

As a user, however, it is difficult for you to understand what information to what extent automatically forwarded to which companies.

Tracking cookies

In addition to cookies, which are deleted after each session is ended, there are also cookies that saved across multiple sessions become. These include the so-called tracking cookies.

These persistent cookies partially take over your digital behavior various websites and for years under the microscope. This enables website providers, but above all third parties (e.g. advertising companies), to create a particularly comprehensive, individual profile of you.

Tracking cookies can also become a security risk. Because sometimes the small text files also save sensitive data such as user names, addresses, telephone numbers or bank details. There are no limits to the subsequent misuse of this personal data.

A brief explanation of the cookie banner

Uniform rules have existed for all member states of the European Union since 1995, which were further expanded with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. Accordingly, consent to the use of cookies may not be given in the form of preset ticks or crosses, but users must actively give their consent. Many cookie banners name different categories of cookies:

Necessary / required / essential cookies

These cookies are technically necessary for the provision of the website and its functions, so that they cannot be deselected or refused. A pre-set checkmark, cross or a selection switch for these cookies is OK.

Performance / analysis / statistics / functionals / etc. Cookies

These cookies are not necessary for the actual operation of the site, but they help the operators to improve the sites and offers. However, this does not necessarily have to be an improvement in the interests of the customer. These cookies must not be preselected.

Marketing / advertising / personalization cookies

These cookies are used to select the advertising that is shown to you on websites. On the one hand, this involves recording and evaluating your interests when you visit the website in order to display appropriate advertising on other websites. On the other hand, information about your visits to other pages is used to display advertising tailored to you on the current website.

Personalization cookies are also used to show you only certain contents of a website - for example, only the sports or political articles of a certain region on a news page. However, this also increases the risk of the "filter bubble" in which you only receive information that confirms your opinion and does not even see other critical opinions.

Special case: legitimate interest

Many website operators base the preselection and subsequent setting of certain cookies on what is known as a legitimate interest. This interest can be of an economic, legal or ideal nature. Providers and users are not always of the same opinion as to which interest is actually justified. From a legal point of view, however, the operator's interest must be more important than the user's interest in data economy. Example: An online shop has an economic interest in only showing you expensive products. But you have a legitimate interest in also being shown cheaper products. Many website operators therefore offer the option of deselecting such cookies. You should do that too.

It has not yet been clarified whether providers are allowed to activate this area automatically. As usual, our advice: Only allow cookies that you can understand why they should be used. If in doubt, it is better to select only the necessary cookies instead of simply clicking on the "Accept all" button.