What’s that new warning at the bottom of the screen?

This morning you might have noticed a new popup at the bottom of the screen here at The Solid Signal Blog. It could be there right now. It looks like this:

 

but it’s at the bottom of the screen. A few users have asked me whether or not that’s some sort of malware that’s become attached to the blog. It isn’t. It’s just something we sort of have to do.

GDPR made me do it

You’ve likely seen this sort of warning on a lot of sites in the past year. The General Data Protection Regulation, a 2016 law made by the European Union, says that all web sites visited by EC citizens must get permission before storing any files on a user’s computer. We’re actually a little late to the party in adding this “permission slip.” Once you say “OK” the message shouldn’t come back.

Honestly the majority of our users are in the US and this is not something we strictly needed but we are happy to comply with global laws whenever possible. This is a minor, one-time inconvenience for our members and if you choose not to click OK you can still browse the site. There are some features like commenting that will be harder but for average readers it’s not a big deal.

What’s a cookie anyway?

You’ve probably heard this term at some point in the last several years. A “cookie” is a very small file kept on your computer that contains information that you’ve volunteered. For example, if you have entered your address into an e-commerce site it will be stored in a cookie. That way  you don’t have to type it again. A cookie can also be used for tracking purposes. Did you ever notice that when you look at something on Amazon, you see ads for that thing for about a week? Amazon is storing enough data about you to let its ads pull up your browsing history. That’s how they do that. Other web sites can pull information from the cookies on your computer and use it to try to identify you as well.

I know that all sounds fairly scary but the information involved is usually pretty benign. If you don’t like being tracked, you can go into “Private Mode” on most browsers and you won’t be tracked at all.

What do we use cookies for?

Honestly we don’t use them for much. If you’ve made a comment here then that information can be stored. If you’ve used the Disqus system at other sites, this site could pull that information up to make it possible for you to comment here. That’s honestly about it. We don’t store your personal information. We don’t even store your login information from our sister sites. In fact we never sell your information to other advertisers. Not only that we don’t use your browsing history to select products for you.

The blogging platform we use does store some information on your computer. As I said we don’t provide it to other sites. In the name of transparency I will say that I personally didn’t write the entire platform. WordPress isa well-respected, open-source blogging platform with a reputation for integrity and privacy.

So, as long as you feel comfortable, click OK and enjoy The Solid Signal Blog!