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Web measurement and customization opt-out

Learn about persistent cookies and how to opt out of them.

Persistent cookies

Many websites use "persistent cookie" technology. A persistent cookie is a small text file that this website places on your web browser so it can gather anonymous summary demographic information, and remember your browser when it is used to visit our site again later—kind of like cookie crumbs! (Hence the name.) These cookies uniquely identify a browser on a computer, but never a person. In other words, if the same person uses Chrome and Internet Explorer, two unique browser cookies will be assigned, one for each browser, so that person will be counted as two different visitors because visits are based on browsers, not computers or persons.

Most Internet browsers automatically accept persistent cookies. Although using persistent cookies creates a much better experience for you while using the site, most sites will also work without them. If you do not want to accept cookies, you can edit your browser's options to stop accepting persistent cookies or to prompt you before accepting a cookie from the websites you visit.

Important: If you choose to set your browser to reject cookies from every website you visit, this may adversely affect the functionality of non-government websites you visit.

Changing cookie settings in popular desktop browsers

 Chrome version 4 or later

  1. Click the wrench icon in the top right of your browser window

  2. Select "Options"

  3. Click the "Under the Hood" tab

  4. Click the "Content Settings" button

  5. Click the option to "Block sites from setting any data" to block all cookies Or

  6. Click the "Exceptions" button to enter specific websites that you wish to allow/disallow to set cookies

Firefox version 3.5 or later

  1. In the "Tools" menu, select "Options"

  2. Under the "Firefox will:" dropdown, select "Use custom settings for history"

  3. Uncheck the "Accept Cookies from Sites" box to block all cookies Or

  4. Click the "Exceptions" button to enter specific websites that you wish to allow/disallow to set cookies.

Edge version 90.0.818.51 or later

  1. Open Microsoft Edge browser, click on More (…) on the right site of address bar, and select "Settings"

  2. Below the "Settings," click on "Cookies and site permissions"

  3. Under "Cookies and data stored" select "Manage and delete cookies and site data"

  4. Deselect "Allow sites to save and read cookie data"

  5. Select "Block third-party cookies"


Safari version 4 or later

  1. Click the geared wheel icon in the top right of your browser window

  2. Select "Preferences"

  3. Select the "Security" tab

  4. Under "Accept Cookies:", click the "Never" option to block all cookies



Disabling cookies in popular mobile browsers

Mobile Safari

  1. From your home screen on your iPhone or iPad, click "Settings"

  2. Click on "Safari"

  3. Click on "Accept Cookies"

  4. Select "Never" to block all cookies


Opera Mini on a Blackberry device

  1. From within the Opera Mini browser, press the menu key.

  2. Scroll down to access the drop down menu of options

  3. Select "Settings"

  4. Select "Privacy"

  5. Change the "Accept cookies" option to "Off" to block all cookies


Android browser

  1. From within the Android browser, hit the menu key.

  2. Select "More"

  3. Select "Settings"

  4. Uncheck the "Accept Cookies" option to block all cookies


Disabling Google demographic and interest reports

Many sites also use Google Demographic and Interest reports to gather anonymous summary demographic information about website visitors such as gender, age range, and areas of interest for adults over the age of 18. You can prevent your data from being collected and used by Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on.

Disabling AddThis targeting cookie

Many sites use AddThis to enable easy content sharing. AddThis collects non-personally identifiable information, and uses the information to deliver targeted advertising and personalized content. You can prevent your data from being collected and used by AddThis, by opting-out of AddThis targeted advertising.

Government cookie policy

The Office of Management and Budget released guidance in June 2010, updating how Federal agencies can use web measurement and customization technologies (PDF, Download Adobe Reader), such as persistent cookies. is providing a central place for instructions for "opting-out" from one of the most common forms of web measurement and customization technologies, through disabling cookies on your web browser. We also provide instructions on opting out of Google Analytics.

LAST UPDATED: April 17, 2023


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