What do I need to know about cookies?

Updated: 13 August 2019

Cookies are small text files which are transferred to your computer or mobile when you visit a website or app.

We use them to:

  • Remember information about you, so you don’t have to give it to us again. And again. And again
  • Keep you signed in, even on different devices
  • Help us understand how people are using our services, so we can make them better
  • To deliver advertising to websites outside of the UK
  • Help us personalise the BBC to you by remembering your preferences and settings. And your progress, so you can pause and pick up where you left off watching a programme, even on a different device
  • To find out if our emails have been read and if you find them useful

You can change your BBC cookie settings at any time. And you can find out how to stop your browser tracking your info here.

There are different types of cookies:

First-party cookies

These cookies are set by the website you’re visiting. And only that website can read them.

Third-party cookies

These cookies are set by someone other than the owner of the website you’re visiting. Some BBC web pages may also contain content from other sites like YouTube or Flickr, which may set their own cookies. Also, if you share a link to a BBC page, the service you share it on (for example, Facebook) may set a cookie on your browser. We have no control over third-party cookies - you can turn them off, but not through us.

Session cookies

These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer or Safari).

Persistent cookies

These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.

Strictly necessary cookies

These cookies let you use all the different parts of the BBC website. Without them, services that you’ve asked for can’t be provided. Also, as a public service, we collect data from you to help us understand how people are using the BBC online, so we can make it better. We sometimes get other companies to analyse how people are using the BBC online.

Some examples of how we use these cookies are:

  • When you sign in to the BBC
  • Remembering security settings that affect access to certain content, for example, any parental controls
  • Collecting information on which web pages visitors go to most often so we can improve our online services

Functional cookies

These help us personalise the BBC to you by remembering your preferences and settings. Some examples of how we use these cookies are:

  • Remembering your choice of playlists and favourite content and help you do things like commenting on a blog
  • Remembering where you paused a programme on iPlayer and then later picking up where you left off
  • Remembering if you visited the website before so that messages for new visitors are not displayed to you
  • Remembering settings on the website like colour, font size and layout

Performance cookies

These help us make sure that the website is working properly and fix any errors. And they let us try out different ideas.

Advertising cookies

Some websites use advertising networks to show you specially targeted adverts when you visit. These networks may also be able to track your browsing across different sites. We don’t set advertising cookies for people in the UK. BBC Studios sites like bbc.com do use advertising cookies but they won’t track your browsing outside the BBC. You can find more information about how the BBC uses advertising cookies here.

Other tracking technologies

Some sites use things like web beacons, clear GIFs, page tags and web bugs to understand how people are using them and to target advertising to them.

They usually take the form of a small, transparent image that is embedded in a web page or email. They work with cookies and capture data like your IP address, when you viewed the page or email, what device you were using and where you were. You can find out how to avoid them here.

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