Cookies – what are they and what do they do?
Cookies are small files that get placed on a user’s device which contain information relating to the particular user’s website experience. These files may only persist for the life of the particular session that the user is on a website, or they can be set to expire at a date in the future (as determined by the particular website).
What kind of cookies are there?
1. Session Cookies
These only last for the duration of a particular users browser session. They either expire due to inactivity, or they are forcefully expired by a website when there use is no longer required. These are the sort of cookies that we use at Last Night of Freedom.
2. Persistent Cookies
These are stored on a users device for a period that is longer than any one single browsing session. These may be used to store a users preferences for a particular website.
3. First and third party cookies
This identifies who has generated the cookie. First party cookies are generated by the website that the user is looking at. Third party cookies are generated by an external domain that the user isn’t currently looking at – this maybe due to an advert or banner that is being displayed by the first party website.
What is a ‘Session’?
When a user opens their web browser a unique alpha-numeric random number is created – this is known as a SessionID. It is this SessionID that is used by us to track a user through their journey on our website(s). The SessionID only lasts as long as the user has their browser open, or until it expires due to a period of inactivity. The session contains no sensitive personal information.
Why are cookies necessary?
We use ‘Session’ cookies so we can identify a user moving through our system. Initially we simply use the SessionID to identify a single user. This SessionID is a completely random, alpha-numeric number which is unique, an example of its use is our shopping cart – a user navigates round many different web pages looking for items that may be of interest. When they find something, they add it to the cart. We need to know who has added which items into the cart so that we can display these to the user at a future date (usually when they click the view cart button). Since we initially know nothing about the user, we can use this single random number to identify them in our system.
As the user progresses through the cart process, we introduce new cookies holding customer and delivery information – we prefer to hold this in the temporary session rather than committing the information into our database. Our policy is to only record information that is necessary, and in this case, we only commit the information to our database when we know we have received an order.
To summarise, we only keep personal information in the ‘memory’ of the session until we receive an order. We then commit this information to our database. We do not hold any personal information in cookie files for longer than the lifetime of the session.
If you inspect a page on our website, you should see the following cookies:
Our web applications use the Microsoft ASP.NET Framework. This SessionID cookie is required to identify a unique user. This cookie is deleted when you close your browser. More information can be found here - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/899918
These cookies are used by Google to collect visitor usage information. We use Google Analytics to help improve our websites, and to monitor how users interact on the various pages. More information can be found here - http://www.google.com/analytics/learn/privacy.html