A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers downloaded on to a device when the user accesses certain websites. Cookies allow a website to recognise a user's device. Cookies DO NOT allow any of our web sites to access any other part of your computer systems.
The law which applies to how cookies and similar technologies are used for storing information on a user's equipment such as their computer or mobile device changed on 26 May 2011. Full details can be found at The Information Commissioners Office web site
Governments in Europe had until 25 May 2011 to implement these changes into their own law. The UK introduced the amendments on 25 May 2011 through The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011.
The rules in this area are essentially designed to protect the privacy of internet users - even where the information being collected about them is not directly personally identifiable. The changes to the Directive in 2009 were prompted in part by concerns about online tracking of individuals and the use of spyware. These are not rules designed to restrict the use of particular technologies as such, they are intended to prevent information being stored on people’s computers, and used to recognise them via the device they are using, without their knowledge and agreement.
User consent can be explicit or implied. You may have seen web sites that ask you to click an ‘accept cookies’ feature. This gains your implicit consent, and this is required where cookies are set by web sites other than the one you are visiting (e.g. Google Analytics). The Information Commissioner’s guidance made it clear that although an explicit opt-in mechanism might provide regulatory certainty it was not the only means of gaining consent.
As a registered user, we may store additional information in cookies. Users who register with us agree to the use of these cookies. No personal data is stored in any cookies and they are used only to help our systems to 'remember' information such as your preferences. The data in cookies is not normally readable by anyone other than our web server. Even if it was hacked, the data would be meaningless outwith the context of our web sites.