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How To Control Cookies Policy

The use of cookies on the Ragged University website has been a subject of much discussion, particularly as new digital eticates and laws to reflect these are emerging. To respond to a necessary transparency, it requires both choice and information.  For this reason, here all the analytic and functional protocols are explained and also the information to control your internet information on a day to day basis is provided.

cookie monster

Golden Rule:

If you dont like it, block it !

Take back control of your computer

 

For reasons of privacy and in the interests of protecting visitors to this website, we have made the decision to remove Facebook share buttons from the pages and posts.  This is because the Facebook company is using these code snippets to track people who use Facebook outside of the Facebook website even when they are not logged in.

 

In view of the multitude of ethical violations that Facebook has wracked up over the years (for some indication see here) and in view of their development of technology which tracks people outside of the Facebook website.  The Facebook PLC company is eroding people’s privacy by doing things like data trading and buying with companies such as Experian plc, a consumer credit reporting agency (for more information see here).

 

You can follow the slides to and listen to Prof Beverley Skeggs talk about these issues in the following podcast:

 

 

Another important podcast is Roger McNamee talking about Big Tech and The Future of Democracy at the RSA

 

So What Does Ragged Uni Use ?

Firstly, we use Google Analytics which tells us a lot of anonymised information about the number of visitors to the website and how long they are staying etc. This is simply an important development tool for the website to make sure that improvements are made and ensure that it is a website which people are using.

 

Webdesign is more of an art than a science, so we use Google Analytics to see where we are going right and wrong.  These Google Analytics are not linked to any commercial affair and there is no advertising on the website, so there is nowhere for the information about the visitors to go.  We are looking into making this information available to the visitors for the reason of transparency.

 

“Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. The product is aimed at marketers as opposed to webmasters and technologists from which the industry of web analytics originally grew. It is the most widely used website statistics service…” (Wikipedia on Google Analytics)

 

There are also several other plugins on the Ragged Website which use cookies for functionality…

“A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while the user is browsing that website. Every time the user loads the website, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the website of the user’s previous activity.

 

Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items in a shopping cart) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited by the user as far back as months or years ago).

 

Although cookies cannot carry viruses, and cannot install malware on the host computer, tracking cookies and especially third-party tracking cookies are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals’ browsing histories—a potential privacy concern that prompted European and US law makers to take action in 2011.” (Wikipedia on Cookies)

 

If you want to have more control over cookies

you can block them and manage them

with the following software

 

 

Open Source Browser

By using the Mozilla Firefox Open Source Not For Profit web browser, it opens your ability to customise your browser for your own purposes.  All the software is free and has very good support from the open source community which are constantly updating and making available new options online.  It has a good reputation as a browser, and you can install specific security plugins which allow you to automatically block cookies or choose which ones you are going to allow onto your computer.

 

“Mozilla Firefox is a free and open-source web browser developed for Windows, OS X, and Linux, with a mobile version for Android, by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards.As of July 2013, Firefox has between 16% and 21% of worldwide usage, making it the third most popular web browser, according to different sources. According to Mozilla, Firefox counts over 450 million users around the world…” (Wikipedia on Mozilla Firefox)

 

www.firefox.com

firefox

Mozilla Security Add-ons

Once you have Mozilla Firefox installed, you then can visit their website and install security add-ons which allow you to control your internet experience more heavily by blocking or managing cookies…

 

Not only does Mozilla Firefox offer an open source piece of software which gives public access to the code which makes it up, but it also has a number of security and privacy measures already built into it which you can activate in its settings.  These include in the Privacy and security section the ability to:

  • block of trackers and scripts
  • block content tracking
  • block crytominers
  • block fingerprinters
  • option to always send a “do not track” signal

 

“Mozilla Add-ons is the official Mozilla Foundation website to act as a repository for add-ons for Mozilla software, including Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, and Mozilla Sunbird. These add-ons include extensions, themes, dictionaries, search bar “search engines,” and plugins. On January 30, 2008, it was announced that over 600 million add-ons had been downloaded from the site and that over 100 million add-ons automatically check the site for updates every day” (Wikipedia on Mozilla Addons)

 

 You can see their add-ons here:

addons.mozilla.org

addons

NoScript Security Suite by Giorgio Maone

The best security you can get in a web browser! Allow active content to run only from sites you trust, and protect yourself against XSS and Clickjacking attacks. In a little more detail…Giorgio Maone describes himself in this way as a webdeveloper: Hello, I’m a dad 24/7 and a software developer in my spare time. I’m committed to make the web a safer place and the browser more fun, for us and our children 🙂 Install it and you can block various cookies.

 

addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/noscript/

cookie

The general view of the Ragged project is to avoid infringing on people’s privacy and always to afford people the respect of transparency.  Cookies – it is what it is folks – everyone should have the choice to manage their public information, equally, these are useful utilities for webdevelopers to make good websites… The choice is yours.

 

There are several more privacy and security addons which you can use in Mozilla Firefox to prevent advertising companies and websites tracking you.  Invest time in checking out the reputation of any software you use and here are some other free addons which are worth making your own mind up on:

 

  • Ghostery Privacy Ad Blocker: Block ads, stop trackers and speed up websites
  • Adblock Plus: One of the most popular free ad blockers for Firefox. Block annoying ads on sites like Facebook, YouTube and all other websites. Adblock Plus blocks all annoying ads, and supports websites by not blocking unobtrusive ads by default (configurable).
  • Privacy Badger: Privacy Badger automatically learns to block invisible trackers. Instead of keeping lists of what to block, Privacy Badger automatically discovers trackers based on their behavior
  • Ublock Origin: uBlock Origin is not an “ad blocker”, it’s a wide-spectrum content blocker with CPU and memory efficiency as a primary feature
  • Enhancer for Youtube: Built to get the most out of YouTube, this extension comes packed with all sorts of features that allow you, among other things, to manage ads as you wish, control the playback speed and the volume level with the mouse wheel, automate repetitive tasks such as selecting the appropriate playback quality

 

There are lots of other measures to increase privacy and security on your computer especially if you are using Microsoft Windows which has surveillance metrics build into the system – this is particularly bad in the latest incarnation of the operating system, Windows 10.  Here is an article which will tell you more about the surveillance metrics they have been taking of users.  According to online tech magazine ‘The Verge’, France ordered Microsoft to stop tracking Windows 10 users

 

There is a program which has been developed to help people switch off all the features in Windows 10 which you do not want – including the user surveillance mentioned above:

 

O&O ShutUp10

O&O ShutUp10 means you have full control over which comfort functions under Windows 10 you wish to use, and you decide when the passing on of your data goes too far. Using a very simple interface, you decide how Windows 10 should respect your privacy by deciding which unwanted functions should be deactivated.

 

O&O ShutUp10 is entirely free and does not have to be installed – it can be simply run directly and immediately on your PC. And it will not install or download retrospectively unwanted or unnecessary software, like so many other programs do these days!

 

There are lots of reasons why privacy and security are worth investing in.  Taking back control of your internet experience will prevent you from getting stuck in filter bubbles – “A filter bubble is a term coined by the Internet activist Eli Pariser to refer to a state of intellectual isolation that can result from personalized searches when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user, such as location, past click-behavior and search history” (Wikipedia)

 

 

 

By blocking adverts and tracking you massively reduce the amount of data you use – this means that your internet experience speeds up because you are not using your bandwidth and data allowance to transmit information.

 

Not only are you increasing your privacy and preventing your data being harvested by unregulated companies which may affect things like insurance premiums and what things you are shown on the internet, but it also significantly reduces the amount of energy which you are using – and as a result reducing the carbon dioxide that your digital footprint is generating along side the toxins which are released into the environment in the generation of that energy.

 

It is worth investing the time in reading what people are saying about how to maintain privacy and security of your computer.  Well seasoned advice is to read reviews of anything you put onto your computer and spend time reading privacy and security forums.  The balance to this all is that websites like ours use tracking information to assess how well the website is being found and used.  It allows website developers to identify problems and fix them.  That said, there is no reason why you should not block the cookies as web developers have other means available to them as well.

 

A Bit More Information

A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while the user is browsing that website. Every time the user loads the website, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the website of the user’s previous activity. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items in a shopping cart) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited by the user as far back as months or years ago).

 

Although cookies cannot carry viruses, and cannot install malware on the host computer, tracking cookies and especially third-party tracking cookies are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals’ browsing histories—a potential privacy concern that prompted European and U.S. law makers to take action in 2011. Cookies can also store passwords and form content a user has previously entered, such as a credit card number or an address. When a user accesses a website with a cookie function for the first time, a cookie is sent from server to the browser and stored with the browser in the local computer. Later when that user goes back to the same website, the website will recognize the user because of the stored cookie with the user’s information.

 

Other kinds of cookies perform essential functions in the modern web. Perhaps most importantly, authentication cookies are the most common method used by web servers to know whether the user is logged in or not, and which account they are logged in with. Without such a mechanism, the site would not know whether to send a page containing sensitive information, or require the user to authenticate themselves by logging in. The security of an authentication cookie generally depends on the security of the issuing website and the user’s web browser, and on whether the cookie data is encrypted. Security vulnerabilities may allow a cookie’s data to be read by a hacker, used to gain access to user data, or used to gain access (with the user’s credentials) to the website to which the cookie belongs (see cross-site scripting and cross-site request forgery for examples).

(Drawn from Wikipedia)

 

If you are concerned about cookies being on your computer, you can learn how to control your internet experience at AboutCookies.org, a website which teaches you how to delete and control cookies:

www.aboutcookies.org

 

 

Ragged University deleted its Facebook account and does not maintain any presence in Facebook owned technology.  This is because of the repeated ethical violations of the company which demonstrate it as exploiting the users and their data.  You can read about criticisms of Facebook here:

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Facebook

 

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