Privacy etc.

Stop Junk Mail is anti-marketing and pro-privacy. I'll never use your personal details for marketing purposes or allow third parties to use this website to track you on the world wide web.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file containing data. Depending on your browser settings websites can store cookies on your computer (or any other device you're using to surf the world wide web), and your browser can then read the cookies and act on whatever data is stored in them. In principle, this is a good thing. Thanks to cookies you can use web-based e-mail and do your shopping online, for instance. Unfortunately, though, marketeers are using cookies to track what web pages people are visiting. It's for this reason the EU felt it necessary to introduce strict rules for the use of cookies.

As a result we got the Privacy and Communications Directive, better known as the 'Cookies Law'. The law requires website owners to explain what cookies the site is using and, if the cookies are not strictly functional, ask for permission to use cookies – this is why you see annoying cookie messages on just about every website.

there are no cookie warnings on this website. I'm only using non-intrusive, functional cookies:

  • The website checks whether or not your browser has support for Javascript and then sets a cookie named has_js.
  • When you log in to the website or put an item in your shopping basket the website start a so-called session cookie. This cookie contains a random strings of letters and numbers and is used to make sure you're not suddenly logged in as someone else or end up with someone else's shopping basket.

Just to confirm, the website doesn't use any so-called third-party or tracking cookies, nor does it use cookies to "enhance your experience".

Paypal and Youtube

The shop uses Paypal for the checkout. After you've stuffed you basket with lots of goodies you're redirected to the Paypal website to process your payment. Unfortunately, Paypal does use tracking cookies. According to its website these are used to recognise you as a PayPal customer, customise the PayPal services, content and advertising, measure promotional effectiveness, collect information about your computer or other access device to mitigate risk, help prevent fraud and promote trust and safety. In other words, some of these cookies are used for marketing purposes. If you object to this rather laissez-faire approach to privacy, Stop Junk Mail does accept cheques!

There are a small number of embedded Youtube videos on this website. To prevent Youtube from setting cookies on your computer / device the videos are embedded using Youtube's privacy-enhanced mode.

Data gathering

Web servers keep an access and error. For every page element that's downloaded to your computer / device there's an entry that lists the name of the file that was visited; your IP address; the date and time of your visit; what type of request was made; the result status of the request (i.e. whether or not the page could be displayed); the number of bytes transferred; the referrer (the web page you came from); and the user agent (your operating system and browser).

To illustrate, the below shows the entry of me visiting Stop Junk Mail's home page:

stopjunkmail.org.uk 127.0.0.1 - - [26/May/2015:11:53:25 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 6867 "http://duckduckgo.com/post2.html" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:11.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/38.0 Iceweasel/38.0"

We can break this down into little chunks and display it in a table:

Log file What it means
stopjunkmail.org.uk The web page that was requested (in this case the home page)
127.0.0.1 The IP address (this is of course not my real address)
[26/May/2015:11:47:55] The date and time of the visit (the 'timestamp')
GET / HTTP/1.1 The type of request (a normal 'HTTP' request)
200 The result states. '200' means there were no errors.
6867 The number of bytes there were transferred.
http://duckduckgo.com/post2.html The referrer (that is, how I ended up on the web page).
Mozilla/5.0 […] Iceweasel/38.0 The user agent (operating system and web browser).

As I'm hosting this website myself I got access to the full access log. I may also view this data via a logfile analyser called Awstats. This is a tool that turns the access log into pretty graphs, so that I can quickly see how many people are visiting the website. The website doesn't use Google Analytics to collect data about visitors. Google Analytics collects roughly the same data as the above-mentioned tool but focusses on finding out how visitors interact with the website. A more important difference with standard reporting tools is that Google gets its data not from server logs but from a piece of Javascript users of Google Analytics have to include on all web pages of a website. This data is shared with Google, which is the reason I'm not using its analytics software.

Privacy / data protection

In general, I try to treat your personal data as I'd like you to treat mine:

  • I don't collect irrelevant personal details. The website's contact form, for instance, only contains four fields: name, e-mail, subject and message.
  • I don't keep personal data longer than strictly necessary. For instance, future junk mail historians will be disappointed to learn I regularly delete e-mails that are over three months old (unless the e-mails are really significant).
  • I don't use personal data for any purpose other than the one it was collected for. For instance, if you consult Dr Junk Buster your personal data is used to answer your question – no more, no less. Or, when you buy something from the shop your details are used to send you a confirmation e-mail and the item(s) you bought. Your details won't be used for anything else. You won't suddenly get a newsletter or promotional e-mails, nor will your details be shared with any third party.
  • I keep data secure. It's important to be realistic about this: any website can be hacked. That said, a combination of sensible security measures and the above approach to data protection should give you a reasonable level of data security. (In particular deleting data as soon as it's no longer strictly necessary is something I'd encourage others to do – there's no better way of preventing personal data falls in the hand of the wrong people.)

Marketing and other nuisances

As already indicated, Stop Junk Mail will never use your personal details for marketing purposes. I don't do marketing, simple as that. There's no newsletter, and the campaign doesn't have a presence on nuisance platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Last updated: 
6th July 2015