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Website Tracking and Cookies

There has been a lot of talk in the news about the EU Cookie Directive. This piece of legislation particularly covers tracking cookies, which are little files stored on your computer, that store information about pages you have visited on particular websites or adverts that have been displayed to you on a number of different websites.

As part of the legislation we are required to explain to you what our cookies are called and what they do. If we use cookies on our site, that are not required to make a site work, then we have to specifically ask your permission to use them. It's a bit like putting a "No trick or treaters please" on your door at Halloween, stopping the interference before it starts!

This page talks about the cookies and tracking that takes place on our sites and what you can do to help you manage your online presence.

Cookies

Cookies are used for many reasons, but most fall in to the following types:

The EU Cookie Directive states that any cookies that are not "required" for the working of a website (so typically tracking and advertising cookies) must only be created after the site has explicitly explained what the cookie is to be used for and you have given your permission for them to create it. This legislation is only enforceable for sites run for European Union companies / organisations.

Our Cookies

Throughout our site we only use session cookies, which are destroyed the moment you close your browser, or delete your history. Below is a list of the cookies we create on our family of websites and what they are used for:

  1. www.swale.gov.uk
    • "DIOTabs" is created to remember which Do it online tab you are on when viewing the homepage. Without this cookie the tabs would not work properly.
    • "PHPSESSID" is created by our web server, that allows the correct information to be sent to the correct person.
    • "PastMember" is created by our Content Management System, but is not used anywhere and should contain no information.
  2. www2.swale.gov.uk
    • "ASPSESSIONID{id}" is created by our classic ASP web server to make sure the correct information is given to the correct person.
  3. selfserve.swale.gov.uk
    • "ASP.NET_SessionId" is created by our Do it online system and is used to pass data from page to page to handle filling out forms (called "postback"). It is also used to store a unique id, when you have logged in to Do it online, so that the system can pre-fill certain information on forms and allow you access to previously created cases.
  4. visit.swale.gov.uk
    • "PHPSESSID" is created by our web server, that allows the correct information to be sent to the correct person.

Tracking on our website

When using our family of websites your visit is logged using a cookie-less tracking service, provided by eVisit Analyst. We capture things like your screen resolution, the browser you are using, the pages you visit and approximately how long you spend on our site. Nothing we collect can be used to identify you directly, nor would we want to. Our aims for our tracking analytics is to find out what our most popular services are, how many pages are being visited (used to help show the move from traditional contact to online interaction) and what technical things we need to concentrate on (such as screen width for website design or making sure our site works properly in your favourite browser).

If you have Javascript turned off in your browser then the tracking code will not work and we would not be able to find out what pages you access.

Reducing the amount of information you give out

Obviously a simple solution to this problem would be to disable cookies in your browser, but then most of the world wide web would stop working for you! We are not saying cookies are a bad thing, but instead you should be aware of what your browser is telling people about you and what you look at. There are a number of things you can do to make sure that your online behaviour is as sheltered as possible:

  1. Regularly empty your browsing history, including your cookies. The side-effect of this is, though, that any website you have already logged into will "forget" you and you will need to login again on those sites. How this is done is different for the browser you use and the operating system you use (Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, Android etc) but each application should have instructions on how to do this on their website / help system.
    or
  2. Utilise a private mode on your browser. With private mode all your visiting information is destroyed the minute you close either the current tab or the browser. It also restricts what information is sent to web sites, therefore sending less information in the first place. Most browsers have an option for this.  In Internet Explorer it is called "InPrivate browsing" (in version 8 and 9), in Opera it is "New Private Tab", in Firefox it is "Start Private Browsing", Chrome has "New incognito window" (found under the spanner icon) and Safari has "Private browsing".

Please remember that this advice goes for mobile devices as well as home computers. You may not be able to carry out these steps on public computers in places such as the Library or the Sheppey Gateway.

More information

Below is some links we thought might be useful if you would like to know any more about the EU Cookie Directive or how to protect yourself online:

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