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Interested in this issue but short of time? Here's what we think you need to know:
The original EU legislation that became known as the “E-Privacy Directive” was published in 2003 and implemented as European Directive - 2002/58/EC then amended by Directive 2009/136/EC that included a requirement to seek consent for cookies and similar technologies. The EU Directive entered UK law on 26th May 2011 as “The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011” often referred to as PECR - and this is still in force today. PECR sits alongside the more widely known legislation GDPR - both are regulated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) www.ico.gov.uk.
A cookie is used by a website to send 'state information' to a user’s browser and for the browser to return the state information to the website. The state information can be used for authentication, identification of a user session, user preferences, shopping cart contents, or anything else that can be accomplished through storing text data on the user's computer.
Cookies cannot be programmed, cannot carry viruses, and cannot install malware on the host computer. However, they can be used to track users’ browsing activities, which was a major privacy concern that prompted European and US law makers to take action.
Cookies are used by most websites for a variety of reasons - often very practical reasons to do with the operation of the website. However, they are also used to monitor how people are using the website (which pages are visited and how long is spent on each page). Each "visitor session" is tracked even though no effort is made to try to identify the user in person.
The new legislation states that users must be able to opt-out from having cookies stored on their computer.
If you decide to disable cookies, we record this so you don't get asked the question again. You will find that most of the website works as expected although functions that rely on cookies are obviously disabled. These functions include online forms (e.g. our enquiry form) or any feature that requires you to log in.
We use a cookie to remember your cookie preferences, which has a couple of consequences: