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What cookies do our sites use?

In general, we set up Google Analytics to look at user statistics for a website, and this facility sets cookies. The cookie data is anonymous in that it doesn't identify a user directly, only their use of the site and other non-personal information. Some sites also use Adobe Typekit fonts, and Adobe sets a cookie related to this.

We use compliance software that allows acceptance of cookies, refusal of cookies, and a link to get more information. For a website to comply with the law, and to quote the Information Commisioner's Office website:

“You must tell people if you set cookies, and clearly explain what the cookies do and why. You must also get the user’s consent. Consent can be implied, but must be knowingly given.

There is an exception for cookies that are essential to provide an online service at someone’s request (eg to remember what’s in their online basket, or to ensure security in online banking).

The same rules also apply if you use any other type of technology to store or gain access to information on someone’s device.”

The ICO site, where the EU Cookie Law is described in detail.

Websites and legislation that covers their use

1. Digital Accessibility legislation

Whilst it isn't a legal requirement to follow the legislation on digital accessibility, trying to adhere to the guidelines where possible is a good thing. The British Standard for Web Accessibility (BS 8878) is designed to help organizations improve their websites, making them easier to use for everyone. Whilst not claiming to comply with the standard, sites are designed with it in mind as an ideal goal.

Where possible, sites are constructed so as to be compatible with a wide range of assistive technologies, and to work with as wide a range of browsers as possble, although some older browsers will have problems with modern web standards. Usually the site will break in a way that is gentle and non-catastrophic when using old browsers, with aesthetics being the main item to suffer, rather than important content.

2. GDPR and 'cookie' laws

The law regarding regarding 'cookies' changed in 2012 under the guise of the EU e-privacy Directive, and websites need to make sure that they have the consent of users before storing cookies.

So, what are cookies? They are small text files that store information on your computer, being put there by web sites you visit. Your browser manages the storing and retrieval of cookies. Cookies can help a website retain details about an account you may have with a company, or details of preferences set for a website. They can also, if carefully employed, identify an entire sequence of web behaviour useful to marketing departments, something that some will find ominous, and which you need to be aware of.

As with accessibilty issues, any legal notices regarding cookie use are automatically built in to any website I construct.

The EU wide GDPR regulations (General Data Protection Regulations) are still effectively part of UK law since Brexit, but under a different UK centred guise. The differences are small, but if you are a company operating in the EU, then you have to follow the EU GDPR rules for international data transfer rather than just cross-border transfer. Read more here.

Ian Halstead
Websites, graphics & artwork
Hull, East Yorkshire

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