What are Cookies?
A cookie is a piece of data in text form, which identifies users’ computers to the BEFS’ server. Cookies remind the server of a user’s preferences from the last time he or she visited a particular site. There are several types of cookie and the most common are referred to as ‘session’ cookies. The website creates “session” cookies to store some of the preferences of users moving around the website.
Cookies enhance BEFS’ website performance in a number of ways including providing a secure way for BEFS to measure use of the website. This helps to determine what is popular and can influence future content and development. Cookies in themselves do not identify individual users but identify only the computer used. BEFS does not use “tracking/persistent cookies” or “Third Party Cookies”. BEFS collects this information in a way which does not identify anyone. BEFS does not make any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting the BEFS’ website.
The only exception under the new regulations is if what BEFS is doing is ‘strictly necessary’ for a service requested by the user. We do not need to get consent for this type of activity. Cookies have several roles, none of which can compromise your privacy:
- Protection – to ensure an individual is a genuine visitor and not someone else using their password.
- Authenticate and speed up visitor identification and e-commerce transactions.
- Recognise preferences e.g. remember user names and passwords for websites.
In addition, in the future BEFS may use Google Analytics to analyse the use of the website. Google Analytics generates statistical and other information about website use by means of cookies, which are stored on users’ computers. The information generated relating to BEFS’ website is used to create reports about the use of the website. Google Analytics do not personally identify the user in any way whatsoever.
Visitors can choose to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but visitors can usually modify their browser setting to decline cookies if they prefer. This may prevent them from taking full advantage of the website. The user can also delete the cookies on leaving the site. If visitors want to delete any cookies that are already on their computer, they should refer to the instructions for their file management software to locate the file or directory that stores cookies. Please note that by deleting BEFS cookies or disabling future cookies visitors may not be able to access certain areas or features of the website.
The following table lists the type of information that is obtained via BEFS’ Google Analytics cookies and used in Analytics reports. This information will be publicly available on the BEFS’ website.
|Functionality||Description of Cookie||Cookie Used|
Scope of BEFS’
|Because any cookie read/write access is restricted by a combination of the cookie name and its domain, default visitor tracking via Google Analytics is confined to the domain of the page on which the tracking code is installed. For the most common scenario where the tracking code is installed on a single domain (and no other sub-domains), the generic set up is correct. In other situations where BEFS wishes to track content across domains or sub-domains, or restrict tracking to a smaller section of a single domain, the additional methods in the ga.js tracking code to define content scope.||All Cookies|
|Determining Visitor Session||The Google Analytics tracking for ga.js uses two cookies to establish a session. If either of these two cookies are absent, further activity by the user initiates the start of a new session.|
This description is specific to the ga.js tracking code for web pages.
|Identifying Unique Visitors||Each unique browser that visits a page on BERFS’ site is provided with a unique ID via the __utma cookie. In this way, subsequent visits to BEFS’ website via the same browser are recorded as belonging to the same (unique) visitor. Thus, if a person interacted with BEFS’ website using both Firefox and Internet Explorer, the Analytics reports would track this activity under two unique visitors. Similarly if the same browser were used by two different visitors, but with a separate computer account for each, the activity would be recorded under two unique visitor IDs. On the other hand, if the browser happens to be used by two different people sharing the same computer account, one unique visitor ID is recorded, even though two unique individuals accessed the site.||__utma|
|Tracking Traffic Sources & Navigation||When visitors reach the BEFS’ site via a search engine result of a direct link to the BEFS’ page, Google Analytics stores the type of referral information in a cookie. The parameters in the cookie value string are parsed and sent in the GIF Request (in the utmcc variable). The expiration date for the cookie is set as 6 months into the future. This cookie gets updated with each subsequent page view to the BEFS’ site; thus it is used to determine visitor navigation within the site.||__utmz|
|Custom Variables||BEFS can define its own segments for reporting on particular data. When using the setCustVar() method in its tracking code to define custom variables, Google Analytics uses this cookie to track and report on that information. In a typical use case, BEFS might use this method to segment website visitors by a custom demographic that they select on our website.||___utmv|
|Website Optimizer||BEFS can use Google Analytics with Google Website Optimizer (GWO), which is a tool that helps determine the most effective design for the site. When a website optimizer script executes on the BEFS’ page, a _utmx cookie is written to the browser and its value is sent to Google Analytics.||___utmx|