We care a lot about our users’ privacy.

Running websites like ours means that your data will inevitably be in our care for a limited period of time.

We put a lot of thought into managing that data in ways that will not compromise your privacy. Below, you can read about the decisions we’ve made.

Our use of your data, cookies, and external services: what you should know, and how to opt out if you want to.

Like many other websites, we sometimes use cookies, Facebook buttons and Google Analytics to help us make our websites better.

These tools are very common and widely used by other sites, but they do have privacy implications, and as a charity concerned with socially positive uses of the internet, we think it’s important to explain them in full.

When you visit sites that use these tools, you’re potentially telling companies such as Facebook and Google that you visited, as well as some information about how your web browser is configured. Nothing more that that – we don’t give out personal information like your email address, home address or private mail.

If you don’t want to share your browsing activities on mySociety’s sites with other companies, you can install opt-out browser plugins. Here are links to more explanations:

 Cookies

To make our service easier or more useful, we sometimes place small data files on your computer or mobile phone, known as cookies. Many websites do this.

This information can be useful for you, and useful for us. For example, if you leave a comment on the blog, cookies ensure that the next time you comment, you won’t have to re-enter your credentials.

Cookies can also help us measure how people use the website, so we can improve it and make sure it works properly.

Below, we list the cookies and services that this site may use.

Name

Typical Content

Expires

comment_author

The name used to leave a comment

1 year

comment_author_email

The email address used to leave a comment

1 year

comment_author_url

The URL used to leave a comment

1 year

Measuring website usage (Google Analytics)

We use Google Analytics to collect information about how people use this site. We do this to make sure it’s meeting its users’ needs and to understand how we could do it better.

Google Analytics stores information such as what pages you visit, how long you are on the site, how you got here, what you click on, and information about your web browser.

IP addresses are masked (only a portion is stored) and personal information is only reported in aggregate. We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data for any purpose besides providing us with analytics information, and we recommend that any user of Google Analytics does the same.

The cookies set by Google Analytics are as follows:

Name

Typical Content

Expires

__utma

Unique anonymous visitor ID

2 years

__utmb

Unique anonymous session ID

30 minutes

__utmz

Information on how the site was reached (e.g. direct or via a link/search/advertisement)

6 months

__utmx

Which variation of a page you are seeing if we are testing different versions to see which is best

2 years

Google’s Official Statement about Analytics Data

“This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. (“Google”). Google Analytics uses “cookies”, which are text files placed on your computer, to help the website analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States . Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of the website, compiling reports on website activity for website operators and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. Google will not associate your IP address with any other data held by Google. You may refuse the use of cookies by selecting the appropriate settings on your browser, however please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of this website. By using this website, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.”

 If you’re unhappy with the idea of sharing the fact you visited our sites (and any other sites) with Google, you can install the official browser plugin for blocking Google Analytics.

 Facebook

We use Facebook on some of our sites to make it quicker and easier for you to log in to the site and to share information with your friends.

If you’re unhappy with data about your visit being used in this way it just requires you to make some changes to your browser. Here is one tool you could use: Facebook blocker.

Even More Detail:

mySociety cares a lot about our users’ privacy. We have carefully written privacy policies, and we try our hardest to look after private data that we hold.

However, in the modern world, more often than not users’ privacy is put most at risk not from hacking or data theft, but by people inadvertently giving data about themselves away as they surf around the internet.

One of the most common ways in which this happens is that people visit Website A without realising that by visiting it they are telling Website B which pages on Website A they have visited, as well as information about the set up of the web browser being used.  The reason this happens is that the people who run Website A add elements to their webpages, such as adverts, which are run by Website B.

When a user visits Website A, their browser loads content both from Website A and from Website B. The side effect is that Website B knows that you visited Website A.

Normally this is not a problem at all, but if Website A is a website about a private medical condition, or contains help with filing for a divorce, or advice on how to come out to your parents, then you might not be happy that Website B gets to know about your surfing activities.

mySociety is starting to make greater use of tools like Google Analytics, and Facebook’s ‘Like’ buttons, on our sites. These represent different kinds of Website B.

We believe that adding elements supplied by these companies to our sites help us to help our users. However, because we have a wider public service remit we want our users to be aware that this means that these companies do get to know that you visited our websites. And not just our websites, of course, but the millions of other sites that contain elements supplied by these groups.

Many if not most people simply won’t care about the fact that their information is being sent to third parties. But some people will, and we consider that it is our duty to explain what is happening, and to link to sources that will explain what you can do to protect yourself further.

Lastly, if you are looking specifically to block external cookies that mySociety uses, please be aware that as of today Facebook and Google Analytics are all we use – we have no advertising on our sites.

Parts of this text originated on the gov.uk cookies page and have been re-used under the Open Government Licence.

Last updated: March 2014