Macrotone Blogs

Macrotone blogs upon Joomla, our products and other matters.

EU Cookie regulations and Joomla system page cache

We have noticed a problem on our site related to cookie handling and the Firefox (version 19.0.2) and Chrome (version 25.0.1364.172 m) and the cookies generated by the EU cookie plugin required to meet EU regulations.

The problem, which is (we believe) caused by the use of the Joomla system (page) cache manifest itself either as no EU message being displayed, to enable acceptance of the cookie, or as the cookie acceptance appearing to be ignored (even though it has been accepted) and the message continuing to be displayed.  Option changes to the system cache plugin do not make any difference.

Not a show stopper but a problem none the less.  The problem although first noticed on our own site is also evident on other sites complying with the EU regulations and using cookies.

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PECR– Cookies and Joomla Part 4

Several new product announcements to add to my growing list.  The JED now even has a separate section for Cookie Control

8. Cookie Choice is a non-commercial JED entry.  It does not block cookies but informs the user, which is what the current interpretation of the PECR regulations is understood to be required.

9. JE Cookies a commercial JED entry.  Details are a little light but it offers various colour options. 

One I have mentioned earlier 6. Cookie Alert does offer the country determination options, something we have in our own version.  We have tested our own version and it works reasonably well, although the impact on checking the country of origin on each screen refresh is something we are giving serious thought to, and would impact this product offering as well.

Our own home grown version is being tested and is working well.  One thing we have found is a small problem where if a visitor does not accept the cookies, and just leaves the banner displayed, continuing to browse the site, IF a separate modal window is opened, we have observed a situation where the model window is also presented with the cookie banner.  Not every modal window, just some, so we are investigating further. 

PECR-Cookies and Joomla Part 3

In my last post where I mentioned System - EU e-Privacy Directive I have carried out some tests and can confirm that it does indeed work very well. Code inspection reveals if is very light weight and tightly coded so should be very efficient on busy sites. Highly recommended. I note a newer version is also available so the author seems to be quite intensive in updating/improving the code and very responsive to reported problems and suggestions. It also supports Joomla 1.5 as well.

I have however decided to roll my own code and will shortly be releasing an update to our ‘Password Control Plugin’. The reasons include being able to store easily the cookie acceptance in the database, which means that even if the browser is configured to clear the cache when it closes (my personal preferred setting) it will still prevent the user being re=prompted every time. I can also add additional IP checks to check for the country of the site visitors, and also disable the banner display for ‘private’ IP addresses, within a company for example.

One discovery that I can confirm is that the basic Joomla front end works successfully without any untoward impact. Of course our site is not making use of compute intensive applications. I would add though that the same cannot be said of the back end which definitely requires cookies to work at all. [Note to self: Must never turn off cookies in the browser!]

New software announced for cookie privacy include the following:

8. PixCoookiesRestrict a commercial offering displaying the banner in the main page display area.

PECR–Cookies and Joomla Part 2

Since my original post there have been several new developments announced, so this is to update my list of software:

1.  Name:  Kookie Grab   Website: JED

Notes:  An updated version announced  on the Joomla Extensions Directory, written by Kevin Griffiths.  Non-commercial it seems to have resolved the initial problems I discovered with it.

3.  Name:  Channel Computing   Website:  Channel Computing

Notes:  A plugin that displays a banner on the page.  A free lite version  and two commercial available.  This is the solution with have chosen to use (at least initially) as it minimises the changes required.   There seem to have been at least 3 updates to this software, some of which introduced problems along the way.  Still a very simple and clean solution.  

5. System - EU e-Privacy Directive

An extension by Michael Richey, which is non-commercial.  I have used some of Michae’s extensions previously and they all work very well.  Definitely worth a look at, especially if it does as claimed.

6.  Cookie Alert

A commercial offering, which I have not tested.

In addition there are several commercial offerings which seem to be appearing.  The Oracle web site used a product from Etrust which is interesting although probably over kill for most Joomla sites.

If you want to roll your own Portent have a free script code example.  Also worth looking at is Wolf Software which has a collection of scripts.  They do however store a cookie themselves even if you request no cookies, which somehow seems to defeat the object, and of course it all relies upon Javascript.

Macrotone Web Site Cookies

Cookies Overview

Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer by websites that you visit.   They are widely used in order to make websites work, or work more efficiently, as well as to provide information to the owners of the site.

The table below explains the cookies we use and why.  View our Privacy Policy to learn more about cookies.

First Party Cookies

Cookie Name Purpose More info
Google Analytics __utma
These cookies are used to collect information about how visitors use our site. We use the information to compile reports and to help us improve the site. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form, including the number of visitors to the site, where visitors have come to the site from and the pages they visited. Disallowing the use of these cookies prevents us from accurately analysing visitor numbers and visitors trends.
Click here for more information on Google Analytics and the Cookies it uses.
Macrotone Consulting Web site bb2_screener_

This cookie is used by Bad Behavior  to ensure the security of the site and each visitor’s session.

This cookie is believed to be exempt from the regulation because it is a site security cookie meant to help comply with the seventh data protection principle.


‘encrypted name’

Encrypted session cookie used by the web site to track the visitor.  Both the name and the value are encrypted.

Expires at the end of the session.

The session cookie name is an MD5 hash of logged in username (if logged in),  ip address, and some other info. 
The names and values are to all extents meaningless. 
In addition to the session cookie, if you have set the "remember me" flag there is also a remember me cookie saved with an encrypted version of your username and password.

  cookieAcceptanceCookie Indicates acceptance of Cookies policy.  Created when visitor has accepted cookie policy.


Third Party Cookies

Cookie Name Purpose More info
Twitter 'Tweet' button unique id pid This cookie is set by to save a unique anonymous id for each website visitor.
Only present if Twitter is used on the site.

Please visit to find out more. To delete this cookie you must manually delete this via your web browser settings.

PECR – Cookies and Joomla

I have discovered a few pieces of software that provide a start in satisfying the PECR Cookie regulations which come into effect on 26th May 2012.

I make no claims for any of these pieces of software, but my searches may be of use to others.   In total I have found the following:

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PECR, ICO cookies regulations

The new Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), announced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2011, comes into effect on 26th May 2012.  In advance of the ICO cookies compliance date, organisations are expected to take appropriate steps to be compliant, which include making proactive changes to their websites.

We have blogged about this topic before and reference should be made to the official EU cookie compliance guide (registration required) which contains news and advice for organisations in Europe and around the world for complying with the cookie law.

The ICO provides specific guidance on PECR compliance.  However this is not all that clear (to me at least), so the absence of clear guidance on cookie compliance, and the range of practical difficulties that will be encountered in determining what to do with each identified cookie, may lead many website operators to struggle with the compliance process.

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Four steps to comply with PECR, ICO cookies regulations

The new PECR regulations, announced by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in 2011, will be enforced in May 2012. In advance of that date, organisations are expected to take appropriate steps to be compliant, which include making proactive changes to their websites.

The absence of clear guidance on cookie compliance, and the range of practical difficulties that will be encountered in determining what to do with each identified cookie, may lead many website operators to struggle with the compliance process. To make the process easier, here are four steps you can take to make the appropriate changes to your website in order to comply with the PECR cookie regulations.

This article [Requires registration] discusses the steps to take further.

PECR Regulation compliance

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) governing the use of electronic cookies, announced in 2011, will be enforced in May 2012. In advance of that date, organisations are expected to take appropriate steps to be compliant.

This will impact all/most sites including Joomla where cookies are used.  A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that websites place on their visitors' computers, and despite its small size, it can reveal a lot of information website visitors may not be eager to share. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) provides specific guidance on PECR compliance and recommends a cookie audit as the first step. This article [Requires registration] explains how to audit cookies on an organisation's website.

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