This was last updated in December 2012, adding information about LinkedIn and Media UK Accounts.
A cookie is a small piece of information which is sent to your computer when you request something from a website, and that your browser will send back in future requests to that site. Some cookies are "persistent", meaning they will continue to be sent for weeks, months or even years unless deleted, while others are deleted automatically when you close your browser window.
Cookies can be used for many things, but one use of persistent cookies is to track you between visits. If a server sends a persistent cookie containing of a unique code number for you, that unique code will be sent back to that server in every future request until it’s deleted, allowing all of those requests to be associated with one another — in effect, allowing the server to distinguish you from another browsers. Sometimes, these kinds of cookies can be sent and received by services embedded on a site, rather than the site itself. These cookies are called third-party tracking cookies, and can be used to associate your visits to multiple distinct sites with one another.
(For more technical information on what a cookie is, read this page from Mo McRoberts, who also wrote the above two paragraphs.)
We have two types of cookie - personal and non-personal. (All our cookies are "persistent").
Our login cookie
If you want to, we need to know that you've successfully logged in, and which user you are. So, when you log in, we have a clear note that you consent to us placing a cookie on your system. This cookie (called "muku") contains a long set of randomly-generated characters that we also store in a database next to your personal information. When you load a page on our website, your computer sends us this cookie, and we then look in our database and see if it's connected to any of our users. If it is, we know that you are you.
If you delete this cookie, we'll not know you're logged in. Or, if you log in on another computer, we'll change the long set of randomly-generated characters, so your cookie on this machine ends up being useless. It contains no personal information itself.
You can delete this cookie by logging out of the website, or by using your browser's controls.
Not personal information
Along with logfiles, we use Google Analytics to work out what our visitors look at on our website. Google Analytics isn't personal information - it doesn't know who you are. Actually, it contains information about use of our website from anyone who uses your computer, not just you, and they've no idea who you are. We do not tie any information from Google Analytics with our login cookie. Since it's not personal information, we aren't specifically asking you for prior consent.
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other similar services
Like almost all other websites, we use the standard Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ buttons. Again, if you're logged out of these services, they have no personal information about you. Since it's not personal information, we aren't specifically asking you for prior consent to use them.
When you log into these services, they'll know when you visit Media UK and other websites who use their services. You're consenting to this when you log in to them: and that's who has your personal details.
You can turn off tracking by Twitter here.
We believe that relevant, tailored advertising based on other things you've looked at is a good thing, incidentally: it's much less irritating than scattergun ads containing completely irrelevant stuff. Every time we speak about this to other people, it seems people think the same, too.
We take this stuff quite seriously