Cookies may be set by the website you are visiting (‘first party cookies’) or they may be set by other websites who run content on the page you are viewing (‘third party cookies’).
What is a cookie?
A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is stored on your browser, the hard drive of your computer or your mobile device if you agree. Each cookie is unique to your web browser.
The cookies we use are "analytical" cookies. They allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors and to see how visitors move around the site when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works, for example, by ensuring that users are finding what they are looking for easily. You can find more information about the individual cookies we use and the purposes for which we use them below:
I. Google Analytics
- __utma: This is the main way Google Analytics tracks unique visitors. Stored in this cookie is a unique visitor ID, the date and time of their first visit, the time their current visit started and the total number of visits they have made. The __utma cookie is a persistent cookie that expires in two years. With each new visit, the expiration date is refreshed.
- __utmb: This is how Google Analytics decides whether a visit has timed out and also how deep a visit has gotten. It stores the number of pageviews in the current visit and the start time of the visitor's current visit. The __utmb cookie is a persistent cookie that expires in 30 minutes. Each pageview refreshes it.
- __utmc: This is the only session cookie used by Google Analytics. Its only purpose is to register that the visit ended if the browser gets closed.
- __utmz: This is the traffic source cookie. It contains all of the traffic source information for the current visit, if it was different from the previous visit. If no traffic source information can be found for the current visit, the cookie is not changed. This is the way that Google Analytics attributes visit information, including conversions and transactions to a traffic source. It does not contain historical information for previous sources. This is a persistent cookie with a catch: it expires in six months and is only refreshed when the traffic source changes. Every other cookie is refreshed with each pageview. The impact of this is that a banner ad that brings a visitor to your site will get the credit for all future direct visits for up to six months. After six months, if there have not been visits from any other source, the cookie will expire and start to attribute information to direct visits.
The Google Analytics Cookies are first-party cookies and are essential to using Google Analytics web traffic monitoring service on the site. These cookies are not linked to any identifiable user information that is stored in the website database.
According to an article by the Government Digital Service the use of Analytic Cookies are minimally obtrusive and are essential to the running of any public service website.
II. Website Session
5. ASP.NET_SessionId, expires at the end of the session
Session cookies are used by the website to maintain the state of pages between page post-backs. These cookies are essential to the running of the site and we would therefore deem them as exempt from the legislation. This cookie is not linked to any identifiable user information that is stored in the site database.
III. Third Party Cookies
6. Twitter Cookies – Powering the twitter feed on the homepage
7. Facebook Cookies – Social plugin in the footer of every page
IV. Other Cookies
- TinyMCEPasteText – to be removed imminently.
- BIGipServerProdVisitor – Part of the newsletter
- X-Mapping-abiknkkh – Load balancer cookie on the IQ test – exempt.
- Google Analytics (again) on the IQ test which is separately hosted
What to do if you don’t want cookies to be set
If you prefer, it is possible to block some or all cookies, or even to delete cookies that have already been set; but you need to be aware that you might lose some features and functionality of our website. If you wish to restrict or block web browser cookies which are set on your device then you can do this through your browser settings; the Help function within your browser should tell you how. Alternatively, www.aboutcookies.org contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of desktop browsers.
Find out more about:
- how to control cookies
- how to delete cookies