Hampshire Astronomical Group

Celebrating 50 years (1960 - 2010)

Cookies Policy

What are Cookies?

A cookie is a small file, typically of letters and numbers. It is downloaded onto your device (most likely your computer) when you use some parts of our website. The Cookies allow our website to recognise your device as you move around the website.

For more information, we suggest viewing the website All About Cookies which is a free resource to help marketers and consumers understand the issues surrounding the use of cookies.


What information do we store in the Cookies we use?

We have two types of cookie in use on our website: a Session Cookie and a Persistent Cookie.

What is the Session Cookie, and what does it contain?

The Session Cookie simply contains a reference number which will mean absolutely nothing to any other computer except the one which our website is located on, known as the Server. It uses this reference number so it can identify you and provide you with the right information as you move around the website. This is important for you, especially in the Members Area, as we want to make sure you get access to the correct information.

What is the Persistent Cookie(s), and what does it/they contain?

We use Persistent Cookies to store information which the server needs to help customise some sections of our website. Currently they are only used in the Discussion Forum, to keep a note of the last time you visited and which time zone you are in. This helps our Discussion Forum keep track of which topics and posts you have read, and which are new since your last visit.

We also use Google Analytics to monitor how visitors use our website, and Google's system also makes use of Cookies. We use this information to help improve the website, and make sure that the most popular sections of it receive the most attention. We do not keep any personally identifiable information in these statistics, as the data is collected in an anonymous form. The information contains how many visitors came to the site, which pages they looked at, and where they have come from. We do not have control over the Cookies provided to you by Google, so if you want full information about how this information is collected and used, we suggest you look at the Google Analytics Privacy documentation.


What happens if you don't want to accept the Cookies?

We need to use the Cookies described above in order to give you access to information and services on our website that are intended for Members Only. Without the Cookies, our website would not be able to identify you as a member and give you access to the services and information.

If you are concerned about the Cookies on our website, or have any questions about them, you are welcome to ask, and your questions will be passed on to a member of the Website Team who will be able to reply.

You are welcome to delete the Cookies after using our website, however when you log in again or use our Discussion Forums, you will be supplied with a new cookie.

We do not have control over the Cookies supplied to you by Google, however you can use the options within your browser to block cookies from Google Analytics.


How do I give my consent for you to store Cookies on my computer?

By logging into the Members Area, or using the Discussion Forums, you are deemed to have given consent for us to store the cookies required to provide those features to you. If you are not happy giving your consent, then you should not attempt to use these features.


Legal requirements for Cookies

As you may be aware, as of May 27th 2012, new laws regarding the use of Cookies come into force in the UK. Under these new regulations, the Cookies we use for our Members Area and Discussion Forums are exempt from the right to refuse a cookie.

"The Regulations specify that service providers [Hampshire Astronomical Group] should not have to provide the information and obtain consent where that device [the Cookie(s)] is to be used where such storage or access is strictly necessary to provide an information society service [the Members Area and Discussion Forums] requested by the subscriber or user."
- ICO document "Guidance on the rules on use of cookies and similar technologies - version 3" as of May 2012, with our annotations in italics.

Even though our use of Cookies is exempt from requiring your specific consent, we believe in being open with all our website users, which is why we provide this Policy for your reference and direct you to it from our login page.

At this moment, we are awaiting clarification from Google on how their Google Analytics package complies with the new legislation. We trust that they will become compliant, however if they do not, then we will have to reconsider whether we continue using their services, as will many other websites across the UK.