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HearFromYourMP

Privacy and cookies

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

Summary: We care a lot about our users’ privacy. We provide details below, and we try our hardest to look after the private data that we hold. Like many other websites, we sometimes use cookies and Google Analytics to help us make our websites better. These tools are very common and used by many 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. If you don’t want to share your browsing activities on mySociety’s sites with other companies, you can adjust your usage or install opt-out browser plugins.

Privacy

mySociety will not supply the names, email addresses, postcodes or any other personal data of constituents to anyone, including MPs, except in two limited circumstances:

  1. a constituent uses the link we include to WriteToThem.com to contact their MP, in which case they are obliged to reveal their email and postal addresses to the MP, in accordance with that site's usage policy.
  2. a constituent chooses to respond on the public forum on HearFromYourMP, in which case we will reveal their name only, adjacent to their post(s). We will not reveal any other information, unless the user includes personal information on their post.

We believe that constituents have the right to listen to what their representatives say without revealing their identities — this is what happens every time someone buys a local newspaper, or stands anonymously in a crowd listening to an MP. We see no reason to challenge it.

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. We use this information to, for example, remember you have logged in so you don't need to do that on every page, or to 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 can use.

NameTypical ContentExpires
pb_person_idA digitally signed token of the logged-in user's numeric ID, and when they logged inWhen browser is closed
test_cookie"1", to test if cookies are supportedWhen browser is closed

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.

If you’re unhappy with data about your visit to be used in this way, you can install the official browser plugin for blocking Google Analytics.

The cookies set by Google Analytics are as follows:

NameTypical ContentExpires
__utmaUnique anonymous visitor ID2 years
__utmbUnique anonymous session ID30 minutes
__utmzInformation on how the site was reached (e.g. direct or via a link/search/advertisement)6 months
__utmxWhich variation of a page you are seeing if we are testing different versions to see which is best2 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.”

More general information on how third party services work

Credits

Bits of wording taken from the gov.uk cookies page (under the Open Government Licence).