Privacy and cookies policy
Last updated: May 12, 2016.
We take privacy issues seriously—and yes everyone says that, but we really do. Here (in plain English) are full details explaining the careful steps we have taken to respect and protect your privacy as you use our website.
What are cookies?
When you look at websites, text, graphics, videos, and other computer data moves from a web server (which stores the website you're looking at and "serves" it up to you) to your web browser (the program, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, or whatever you use to surf the Web). There is no easy way for a web browser to remember things about you as you move from page to page, which makes life difficult if you want to do something like putting a product in a shopping cart (trolley), select a particular size of text for the pages you're looking at, sign in to a website for a personalized experience, and so on.
Cookies that improve your experience of our site
Our website uses only one persistent (long-lasting) cookie (called
cookieconsent_dismissed): to record the fact that you have seen our cookie warning and consented to it by clicking "OK." This cookie is stored for one year from the time when you give your consent. Our website doesn't use any other "persistent" (long-lasting) cookies and doesn't use any cookies to track you or collect personal information about you.
Although we do not generally use persistent cookies, our server will usually store one or two temporary (session) cookies on your computer. These expire at the end of your session (when you close your browser):
- Depending on which pages you're looking at, the server may store a simple cookie called PHPSESSID on your computer purely for the duration of your session. PHPSESSID is a technical mechanism that helps the server ensure you can browse our site efficiently when there are multiple people viewing the site at the same time.
It's essentially a random string of letters and numbers that the server assigns to you so it can remember you, as you hop from page to page, and not mix up your session with other people's.
This is purely an internal server mechanism: we don't use this cookie to track you in any way whatsoever
and it will expire and be deleted from your computer as soon as you close your web browser.
- Our site is hosted on a high-performance cloud grid, using many servers. It may store a temporary cookie called DYNSRV, which helps the load balancer (a mechanism that spreads the load evenly across all the servers) to figure out and remember which server is sending pages to you—so the site is served to you faster.
Photo: The three cookies used by our website. Of these, only cookieconsent_dismissed is a persistent cookie that lasts beyond your current browsing session. You can also see the typical contents of a PHPSESSID cookie: it's a simple random identifier that contains no personal information about you. The cookie expires at the end of your session, which usually means when you close your browser.
None of these cookies (cookieconsent_dismissed, PHPSESSID, or DYNSRV) collect or store any personal information about you or track your behavior for marketing purposes in any way whatsoever.
Cookies that help us serve relevant, personalized advertising
Although our own server does not set persistent cookies (other than for cookie consent), please be aware
At the moment, we run advertisements only through Google.
Google's main advertising cookie is called DoubleClick. Google's use of the DoubleClick cookie enables it and its partners to serve personalized ads to you based on your visit to our site and/or other sites you have previously visited on the Internet. You may opt out of the use of the DoubleClick cookie for interest-based advertising by visiting
Google's Ads Settings page. Alternatively, you can opt out by visiting aboutads.info.
If you want to permanently opt-out of the DoubleClick cookie, you can install the
DoubleClick opt out extension
on your browser, which works on Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
The cookies of other third-party vendors or ad networks may also be used to serve ads on our site
and you can usually opt out of these cookies too by visiting aboutads.info. You can learn more about
Cookies for social media
Like pages on most other modern websites, most of the pages on our site now include links to social networking and bookmarking sites (including the Facebook Like button, Google +1 button, and Twitter Tweet button) to help people remember our articles and share them with their friends. Please be aware that, depending on how you are signed into these services, they might be using cookies to track websites or pages you visit. No such information is collected by our own site and none of the information that may be collected by social networking sites is available to us: it passes directly between your computer and the social networking site(s) you belong to.
If you have concerns about privacy and social networking bookmarks, please visit the privacy pages of the sites or services you use:
UK Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
We have carefully reviewed our legal obligations under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (revised May 2011), in line
with guidance from the UK
Information Commissioner's Office. It's for this reason that our site informs you that it is using cookies when you first enter it.
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
As explained above, this site collects and stores no personal information from anyone—and that includes children under the age of 13. We believe it is therefore fully compliant with the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
We will not keep, sell, or otherwise misuse your email address
We value feedback from our readers very highly: we're trying to improve this site all the time and your thoughts and suggestions are invaluable to us. If you send us feedback or comments, we keep them and act on them, if that's appropriate. We give you the option of sending feedback anonymously, though (to prevent abuse), your IP address is sent to us at the same time, along with basic details of which browser, operating system, and so on that you're using (that helps us if you've commented about formatting problems, mobile-device usability, or things like that). If you do choose to send us your email address, we may use it to send you a reply. We don't use it for any other purpose, we don't record it anywhere, and we don't retain it. If we send you a reply, we delete that promptly too, so there is no record of your email address anywhere on our web server or email server.
We don't offer a way for you to opt-out of having your information collected or a way to remove your personal information from our records—simply because we don't collect any information about you!
Site statistics and server logs
Unlike many other websites, we don't obsessively run analytics software to track our visitors; occasionally
we run Google Analytics for a few days to help us diagnose technical problems, but we don't have it switched
on the whole time tracking everything you do. Instead, through our website hosting company, we run a general statistical package called AWStats to show up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly patterns and trends. It doesn't log any personal information about you or how you use our site: it simply tells us general things about how many visitors we have, which pages they look at, and so on. Except when there are technical issues, we don't retain web server logs or the detailed information they contain, so the way you use our site is not tracked or traced.
How can you find out more about privacy issues?
These sites may help you:
For a more general look at privacy issues, you might like to look at the
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Privacy page.
You might also find Simson Garfinkel's book
Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century
interesting; though it's a little dated on specifics now, the basic issues haven't changed.
Our pop-up cookie-consent warning script was supplied by
Silktide, and slightly modified by us on July 29, 2015 so it serves faster from our own server. It's released under the GNU General Public License Version 3 as published by the Free Software Foundation.
Let us know
We hope this answers any concerns you may have about privacy and reassures you that we take the issue seriously. If you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to contact us
using our email form.