A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers downloaded on to a device when the user accesses certain websites. Cookies allow a website to recognise a user's device. Cookies DO NOT allow our web site to access any other part of your computer systems.
The law which applies to how cookies and similar technologies are used for storing information on a user's equipment such as their computer or mobile device can be found at The Information Commissioners Office web site
The essence of this is that, where cookies are stored on your computer, web site owners need to get users’ permission to access their computer to retrieve the cookies.
The rules in this area are essentially designed to protect the privacy of internet users - even where the information being collected about them is not directly personally identifiable. The regulations were prompted in part by concerns about online tracking of individuals and the use of spyware. These are not rules designed to restrict the use of particular technologies as such, they are intended to prevent information being stored on people’s computers, and used to recognise them via the device they are using, without their knowledge and agreement.
User consent can be explicit or implied. You may have seen web sites that ask you to click an ‘accept cookies’ feature. This gains your implicit consent, and this is required where cookies are set by web sites other than the one you are visiting (e.g. on sites where Google gathers analytics). The Information Commissioner’s guidance made it clear that although an explicit opt-in mechanism might provide regulatory certainty it was not the only means of gaining consent.
As a member or registered user, we may store additional information in cookies. Members, and users who register with us, agree to the use of these cookies. In this case, cookies are used only to help our systems to 'remember' information such as your preferences. The data in cookies is not normally readable by anyone other than our web server. Even if it was hacked, the data would be meaningless outwith the context of our web sites.