What is a cookie?
Cookies are small text files that are sent by websites that you visit to recognize who you are when you return there. There files are stored on your computer’s hard drive, and are read by your web browser.
How are cookies used?
In short, cookies are a way of providing statistics on site visits as well as some limited functionality that makes your site visit easier. When used properly cookies are an asset to a site visitor and a site owner. They are not viruses, but some unscrupulous outfits will use them maliciously – we follow best practice for cookie use.
Opting out of cookies?
There are a number of options available so that you do not have to store any cookies at all. You can either set your browser so that it will not accept and store any cookie, or if you have a little more time and knowledge you are able to allow only certain ‘trusted’ sites to store cookies on your computer. These sites may include us (of course!), or the site where you carry out your online banking, or possibly your favourite news service.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if you decide to delete all of your cookies, then you will likely have to re-enter all of your usernames and passwords on all of the sites that you visit, which you previously didn’t even have to think about. As we mentioned before, cookies can be a real asset to your web surfing experience.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (http://www.ico.gov.uk/) provides some advice about cookies and their use, but it also provides a link to ‘About cookies’ (www.aboutcookies.org) which is run by the law firm Pinsent Masons. This website provides even more information about cookies if you feel that this page and the ICO is not enough information for you, but it also details how you might delete any cookies that you find, and it also shows you how to allow those trusted sites to store their cookies on your computer.