What are cookies?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) defines a cookie as “a small file of letters and numbers that is downloaded on to your computer when you visit a website. Cookies are used by many websites and can do a number of things e.g. remembering your preferences, recording what you have put in your shopping basket, and counting the number of people looking at a website.”
Current cookie legislation.
On 26 May 2012, new European law relating to use of web cookies came into force in the UK that will affect most web sites. The rules on cookies are covered by The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 and ICO is responsible for enforcing these new rules.
The regulations also cover similar technologies for storing information, e.g. Flash cookies. The ICO and International Chamber of Commerce both provided guidance and advice on EU cookie directive and its implementation. Please refer to their detailed guides for more information:
- Information Commissioner Office - advice for members of the public [pdf]
- International Chamber of Commerce UK Cookie Guide [pdf]
General use of information collected, used and stored by Imperial College London is governed by Imperial College policies.
Types of cookies
1. Strictly necessary cookies
These will generally be used to store a unique identifier to manage and identify the user as unique to other users currently viewing the website, in order to provide a consistent and accurate service to the user.
2. Functionality cookies
Will typically be the result of a user action, but might also be implemented in the delivery of a service not explicitly requested but offered to the user. They can also be used to prevent the user being offered a service again that had previously been offered to that user and rejected.
3. Performance cookies
These are limited to performance and website improvement.
4. Targeting/advertising cookies
These contain a unique key that is able to distinguish individual users’ browsing habits or store a code that can be translated into a set of browsing habits or preferences using information stored elsewhere.
Sharing information via social network sites
Imperial websites and applications may have links embedded into pages to popular social networks like twitter.com, bbc.co.uk, flickr.com, facebook.com, delicious.com, stumbleupon.com, digg.com, youtube.com etc. Cookies generated by those sites are outside of the College’s control and may change without notice. When you share a page or link those sites may set cookies on your device or browser and can also make information about you publicly available or stored elsewhere. If you would like more information about privacy and the cookies used by these services, as well as information on how to opt-out, please visit their websites.
Clearing or restricting cookies
If you like keeping your browsing private, you may wish to clear history and cookies after the session. You can do so by using the browser, device settings or 3rd party tools.
You may also wish to check and set any devices or browsers to restrict or block cookies by default for all or selected web sites only. You can manage cookie usage through your browser settings:
- Internet Explorer
- Safari (for Mac)
Mobile devices may have their own settings and you may need to refer to vendor manuals. Please note that disabling or restricting cookies may impact some parts of the College web site and they will stop working.
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Imperial College London
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