Cookies

Short version: YES site owners needn’t worry about the ‘web cookie law’.

Longer version, starting with ‘what are cookies anyway??’

In this context, it’s not the biscuits (triple chocolate, please) but the computer variety.

These are small bits of text that are sent by many websites to visitors’ computers and which are stored on them for anything between ‘until the web browser is closed down’ to ‘many years into the future’.

The reason for them is that, by design, web browsing is normally ‘stateless’. When you talk to someone, you know what’s been said between you earlier in the conversation – that’s the ‘state’ before each thing you say. Without that, it would be like talking to someone with a bad case of Alzheimer’s:

‘Hello Your Escort Site, I’d like to buy a really great escort website.’

‘Yes, we do those!’

‘Do you do them in red?’

‘Do what in red?’

For web servers, this can work very well (and it certainly makes writing web servers easier) but sometimes you need to know more than just what was the latest thing said.

There are other ways around this problem, but what has worked best is to arrange for the website to send the browser a small bit of text which the browser then sends to the website every time it looks at that site again. Computer programmers being what they are, it got given the name ‘cookie’.

The equivalent conversation then becomes something like:

Hello Your Escort Site, I’d like to buy a really great escort website.

Yes, we do those! Have this bit of paper saying you’re looking for a really great escort website.

Do you do them in red? Here’s the paper you gave me earlier.

(Reads paper.) Ah, yes, really great escort websites! Yes, you can have them in any colour you like!

When using a web discussion forum like the one on SAAFE.info, cookies enable the website to know that it’s the person who gave the password to the account that’s now posting the helpful comment: when they logged in, their browser was sent a cookie to say ‘I’m this user, and here’s continuing proof of that.’ Similarly, shopping sites use them to maintain your shopping basket (this was their original use).

That’s the good side of cookies. Of course, there’s also a dark side.

Advertisers love them, because ‘third party cookies’ mean an ad provider with ads on multiple sites can detect which of them you’ve visited. Browsers can be set to not accept these and, because virtually every site will work properly without them, it’s a recommended setting which, annoyingly, is not the default in any major browser.

But in the context of escorting, it’s the way that cookies leave evidence about what sites have been visited that can be the most problematic. Do your clients want it to be discovered (quite easily by anyone with access to their browser) that they’ve been to prostitution sites? Do you want any queries wondering why someone’s been looking at your site? In either case, probably not.

In any case, a European Union regulation adopted into UK law last year mean that each visitor’s consent is required to set cookies on their browser that are not strictly necessary (because of being used to implement a shopping cart, for example).

So you’ll be glad to know that, as set up, websites created by YourEscortSite do not set any cookies for visitors. (It does use them with you, when you log into your site.)

Note: this site uses cookies – if you look in your browser’s collection (see its help for how, because it varies from version to version, never mind between browsers) you will see some from here.

We use them to get information about how visitors move around the site. They don’t collect information that identifies a visitor and it is only used to improve how the site works. If you’d like to opt out of having them, then every major browser enables you to delete cookies and/or to decline to have any from any particular site. (Again, you need to see your browser’s help to see how.) You can also go to yourescortsite.com/piwik/index.php?module=CoreAdminHome&action=optOut&language=en – this will send a cookie that says ‘please ignore visits from this browser’.

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