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:
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.