A significant amount of the business done over the internet revolves obliquely around the use, transfer and sale of people’s personal data. Some companies’ ostensible business models belie their underlying source of revenue.

Whilst we at ECM do deal with people’s personal information on a daily basis, we take this responsibility seriously, and we work to a specific and narrower set of criteria so that the ways we use and disclose data are as people would like and expect. Compare the software developers’ adage, the “principle of least surprise”.

You can read more about how ECM handle personal data at https://www.ecmselection.co.uk/personal-data.

Historically ECM used several ancillary services on our website which necessitated the use of cookies. These included third party monitoring and analytics, “are you a robot” checks, per-user server allocation cookies from our providers, and of course the ubiquitous law cookie popups themselves. Many of these were essential services at the time, from our perspective, the obvious exception being some higher-level analytics.

In reviewing these services, we had our developers work from a perhaps unusual premise: whilst many of these are “essential” for the site’s function, let’s take a more specific look at this. Let’s presume optimistically that we don’t need these services, and remove everything we can. Then let’s reinstate them only as strictly required, using anonymous, non-tracking and hence cookie-free equivalents.

The answer of course turned out to be that the site functions very well without the need to collect or disclose visitors’ data. Since we don’t operate a “shopping cart” or similar functionality, we don’t need to track individual visitors’ baskets. The only time we need to identify someone is if they specifically want to give information to us. Which suits us very nicely.

A more subtle issue came up with use of third-party resources, hosted externally, and user IP address disclosure. Mindful of this, we now self-host such prerequisites.

We feel this is a better alternative to some sites’ cookie popups, which are increasingly getting obscure and some of which use eyebrow-raising practices to encourage users to consent, not in the spirit of recent legislation.

Should we need to provide more functionality in future which does require the use of cookies and corresponding consent, we are happier that this baseline is a better place to build from.

If you’re in the high-tech sector in the UK and looking for a new role, or looking to find people to join your company, we’d be pleased to hear from you.