Search
You are here: Home page > Privacy and cookies policy

Privacy and cookies policy

Last updated: February 10, 2021.

If you've come here to opt in or out of cookies, you can do that straight away by clicking here. If you're not sure what cookies are or what they do, please read on.

Quick summary

A general illustration of computer security: a padlock sitting on a computer keyboard.

That was the short version. Please read on if you'd like a fuller explanation—and for details of how to remove unwanted cookies from your computer.

Contents

  1. What are cookies?
  2. How does explainthatstuff.com use cookies?
  3. UK Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
  4. EU General Data Protection Regulations
  5. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
  6. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
  7. Email addresses
  8. Opting out
  9. How can you control your privacy?
  10. Site statistics and server logs
  11. How can you find out more about privacy issues?
  12. Let me know

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.

That's where cookies come in. Cookies are small files that websites can store on your computer to help them remember things about you. Some cookies (known as session cookies) stay on your computer only for very short periods of time (typically, until you close your browser); others, known as persistent cookies, may stay there for years. Some cookies, known as first-party cookies, are set by the websites you visit; others are set by services that those websites rely on (for example, advertisements, statistical tracking programs, social networking widgets and so on)—and they're known as third-party cookies. Cookies like this can be used to track a web user's progress as they move from one website to another, although they generally do so anonymously (they don't usually contain personally identifiable information). Nevertheless, the use of cookies does raise understandable concerns about privacy. If you are worried about this, you can set up your web browser to accept or reject certain kinds of cookies and you can inspect or delete the cookies it contains at any time. I explain how to do this below.

How does explainthatstuff.com use cookies?

This website uses cookies for three things: to improve your experience of the site, to serve relevant personalized advertising, and for social media.

Strictly necessary, technical cookies

Explainthatstuff.com uses temporary browser storage to record the fact that you have seen a cookie warning and consented to it by clicking "OK." This doesn't contain or record any personally identifying information. This 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.

Advertising cookies

This site uses cookies to serve personalized advertising.

Although our own server does not set persistent cookies (other than for cookie consent), please be aware that some persistent third-party cookies are set when you visit our website. Our site runs advertisements on most pages; it is a completely free website and if it didn't run advertising, it would simply not exist: the cost of web hosting for a site this big is now around £800/US$1000 a year. The advertising partners I work with use what are known as persistent, third-party cookies to help them serve up relevant, targeted advertisements that they believe may match your interests, and they may share them with their own partner companies. (Although you might raise an eyebrow at this use of cookies, perhaps it is better that advertisers show you things you might find interesting or useful than completely random advertisements?) Explainthatstuff.com has no control over these third-party cookies. I do not see or have access to any information they may store or collect. They pass directly between your computer and the servers run by my advertisers.

At the moment, I run all the advertisements on this site through Google, which publishes a detailed explanation of how it uses information from sites or apps that use its services (including this website).

Briefly, third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads to you based on your prior visits to our website. 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. If you want to permanently opt-out of the DoubleClick cookie, you can install a browser plugin on your browser, which works on Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer, but you will need to do that for each computer and web browser that you use (if you use more than one). You can learn more about how Google safeguards your privacy by visiting the Google Privacy Policy website.

The cookies of other third-party vendors or other ad networks may also be used to serve ads on our site as part of Google's wider advertising network, and you can opt out of these cookies too by visiting www.youronlinechoices.com (Europe) or youradchoices.com.

Social media cookies

This site does not use privacy-invasive social media sharing buttons or social media cookies. In other words, it does not allow sites like Twitter and Facebook to track you with their social media cookies. The social-sharing icons you'll see on our pages, which look like this...

...are simple, ordinary web links that don't track or trace you in any way. Although they look just like the official buttons, they're just images with simple HTML links out to Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter; they don't use any cookies.

UK Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003

European Law requires that I inform European citizens of how this website uses cookies. I have carefully reviewed my 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 explainthatstuff.com informs you that it is using cookies when you first enter it.

EU General Data Protection Regulations

As explained above, this website does not collect or store any personal information about you. It fully informs you about cookie use and allows you to consent to the use of cookies or opt-out of cookie use just as easily at any time. I have reviewed my legal obligations and believe the site is compliant with the EU GDPR, which is effective from May 25, 2018.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

As explained above, explainthatstuff.com does not collect, store, sell, or share any personal information about you and has no plans to do so in the future. However, in line with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), you may still send us a "Do Not Sell My Personal Information" request if you wish.

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. I believe it is therefore fully compliant with the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Email addresses

I value feedback from readers very highly: I'm trying to improve this site all the time and your thoughts and suggestions are invaluable. If you send feedback or comments, I keep them and act on them, if that's appropriate. I give you the option of sending feedback anonymously, though (to prevent abuse), your IP address and computer hostname are sent at the same time, along with basic details of which browser, operating system, and so on that you're using (that helps me if you've commented about formatting problems, mobile-device usability, or things like that). If you do choose to send your email address, I may use it to send you a reply. I don't use it for any other purpose, I don't record it anywhere, and I don't retain it. If I send you a reply, I delete that promptly too, so there is no record of your email address anywhere on this web server or email server. When I store your feedback, I delete your name, email address, IP address, and host name; only your comments and suggestions are stored.

Opting out

Explainthatstuff.com does not offer a way for you to opt-out of having your information collected or a way to remove your personal information from my records, because I don't collect any information about you.

How can you control your privacy?

Remember: you are in control: you can restrict the information that websites collect about you very easily at any time.

If you're concerned about cookies, you can change the options in your Web browser to restrict how websites can use them. You can switch off certain cookies, instruct your browser to keep them only for certain periods, or delete cookies altogether. You can set the level of privacy controls you want by looking under Privacy in your browser's options, preferences, or settings.

Please be aware that if you switch off cookies altogether, you might prevent some parts of some websites (such as shopping carts and personal preferences) from working properly or you might find yourself logged out of a website and unable to access it properly. One solution is to enable cookies only for those websites you know and trust (favorite shopping sites) and disable them for all other sites. Generally, if you don't log in to websites and you don't want to buy things or set website preferences, it is safe to switch off cookies altogether; if any websites do need to use them, they will usually display a message suggesting you switch them back on. Switching off third-party cookies usually causes no problems.

You could also try switching to a browser like Firefox, which blocks third-party tracking, or installing a browser add-on like Privacy Badger.

How to set the don't track option in the Firefox browser.

Don't track, private browsing, and incognito

Some modern Web browsers have other ways of improving your privacy. For example, if you look under "Privacy" in newer versions of Firefox, you'll find a simple tick-box option "Tell websites I do not want to be tracked." Sounds great! Unfortunately, "do not track" is an empty promise: it's entirely voluntary (and it doesn't stop tracking anyway), so it's much less effective than blocking or deleting cookies. Most of the common browsers also have a "private browsing" or "incognito" mode that stops any data from being collected as you move from page to page, but you probably won't be able to sign into websites if you use this option all the time. And you won't be completely incognito: your IP address will still be visible to and logged by any sites you visit.

Photo: You'll find the "Don't Track" option in Firefox under the Privacy options. You can also change the "History" setting underneath so Firefox deletes all records of your current session when you exit your browser.

Site statistics and server logs

Unlike many other websites, I don't obsessively run analytics software to track visitors; occasionally I run Google Analytics for a day or two to diagnose technical problems but, unlike most websites, I don't have it switched on the whole time gathering data for no good reason or tracking everything you do. Like almost every other server, this site's server logs the IP address of visitors and the pages they look at. I run a general statistical package called AWStats to process the logs and show up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly patterns and trends. This kind of server logging and aggregated analysis doesn't record any personal information about you or how you use this site: it simply shows general patterns about how many visitors the site has, which pages they look at, and so on.

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.

Acknowledgements

The pop-up cookie-consent warning script on this website was supplied by Silktide, and slightly modified by me on July 29, 2015 so it serves faster from my own server. It's released under the GNU General Public License Version 3 as published by the Free Software Foundation.

Let me know

I hope this answers any concerns you may have about privacy and reassures you that I take the issue seriously. If you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to contact me using the email form.

Please do NOT copy our articles onto blogs and other websites

Articles from this website are registered at the US Copyright Office. Copying or otherwise using registered works without permission, removing this or other copyright notices, and/or infringing related rights could make you liable to severe civil or criminal penalties.

Text copyright © Chris Woodford 2006, 2018. All rights reserved. Full copyright notice and terms of use.

Follow us

More to explore on our website...

Back to top