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Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Cookies policy of Manchester City Council's websit

From: Pater Mann
Subject: Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Cookies policy of Manchester City Council's website
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2013 21:39:00 +0100

Hi Yuwei,

There is nothing sinister about this. The protocol used on Web sites (HTTP) is known as a stateless protocol - essentially each time that you display a new Web page by clicking a link, submitting a Web form, etc. it is treated as a one-off event. So where something is spread across more than one Web page, there has to be a way of connecting them together and the usual way of doing that is via cookies. For example, if the form that you were filling in took two pages, the first page might set a temporary cookie containing a key to where it had stored the information from page 1 so that page 2 could put all of the data together when the whole thing was complete. Without that link the site could not associate the two sets of data together. Once the form was complete, the temporary cookie would be deleted as it no longer has any meaning. (These are known as session cookies because they are deleted when the session is finished.)

As it is almost impossible to order something, specify delivery information, give payment details, and confirm the order all on a single Web Page, you will probably find it very difficult to buy anything on the Web without having cookies enabled. Again, there is nothing sinister in this, it is just the way the Web works. Most browsers have a setting that prevents cookies being sent/received from any site other than the one that you are visiting at the time (third-party cookies). Some browsers also have a setting that tells the browser to make all cookies into session cookies. so perhaps these settings might give you some of the privacy that you seek without restricting your ability to participate in some of the more useful Internet activities that are available.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of paranoia about cookies, particularly because of the use of the term "tracking cookie" which conjures up the image of digital private detectives following people around and watching everything that they do. Note that a cookie is simply a piece of text - in itself it cannot track anything so, whilst some caution is certainly justified, the majority of cookie use is perfectly harmless and, in some cases, a necessity. If it was actually illegal to use cookies, many things that are currently done on the Internet would become extremely difficult or impossible. Imagine if you had to log in on every page of a Web site becuase it couldn't store the fact that you had logged in via a cookie!

Hope that this helps.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yuwei Lin <address@hidden>
Date: 15 October 2013 11:06
Subject: [Fsuk-manchester] Cookies policy of Manchester City Council's website
To: Manchester Free Software <address@hidden>


Not sure if this is the most appropriate forum to discuss this, but I
thought list members may be knowledgeable enough to provide some

I was completing an online web form on Manchester City Council's
website. But the website identified that I do not have cookies enabled
on my web browser, and asked that "You must have cookies enabled to
fill in this form".

Why does the city council website want me to enable cookies? I found
Manchester City Council's new website really unfriendly and
one-dimensional. Asking users to switch on cookies against their
wishes is so annoying and perhaps also unlawful?

How do you reckon?


Best wishes,

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