Cookies and VHLGenetics

The new Dutch telecom law, which incorporates European telecom regulations into Dutch law, entered into effect on 5 June 2012. This new law contains a number of provisions dealing with Internet cookies, which is why the law is often referred to as the “cookie law”. This cookie law has made it a bit more difficult for Internet visitors to surf the web, which has made it impractical for us to comply with a literal interpretation of the law.

This page is intended to provide you with thorough and clear information about the cookie law. In the meantime, we are working hard to ascertain the best way to comply with this law.

What are cookies?

Cookies are very small text files that are stored on either your hard disk or in your computer’s memory. They are linked to the web browser (Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) on the computer you use to visit websites.

What do cookies do?

Cookies can be used to store your personal preferences (such as language or font settings), to keep track of products you have placed in your shopping basket in a webshop or to save your user name and automatically recall it, reducing the amount of time it takes you to log in to a given website.

Websites also use cookies to gather statistics on the number of visitors. Website owners can use these statistics to assess which parts of a website or which published articles are popular, as well as to assess whether visitors can easily navigate the site and to identify the web browsers or other equipment visitors are using. Using this data, website owners can continuously improve site content and tailor it to their visitors.

Cookies can also be used to assemble a profile of your interests, for example by recording which types of articles you read or which areas of websites you visit. This helps website owners offer you information that is relevant to your needs. This information may include additional news articles on topics you have indicated an interest in, but it may also include advertisements that relate to your areas of interest. This enables website owners to filter out irrelevant advertising before it reaches you and to ensure that you do not repeatedly receive the same advertisements or videos.

Do cookies identify me to website owners?

No, absolutely not. Cookies are stored in your computer’s web browser and are not linked to you personally. In other words, cookies enable website owners to recognise computers, but not their users. Cookies cannot be used to trace your personal details (such as your e-mail address or your home address). Cookies are entirely unrelated to any undesired telephone sales pitches or spam you may receive, and cookies do not cause computers to become infected with viruses.

How does VHLGenetics use cookies?

Cookies are used on the VHLGenetics websites (www.vhlgenetics.com, www.vhlgenetics.nl, www.vhpgenetics.com, www.snpexpert.com, www.combibreed.com and www.combigen.com). Many of those cookies are necessary for the site to function properly. For example, they enable you to log in without having to repeatedly enter your user name and password.

There are other cookies that we use for statistical purposes. For example, we count the number of visitors to our site, track which articles are frequently read, determine which web browsers are used to visit our site and record which search terms have been entered in search engines to locate our websites. This enables us to optimise and improve our websites, both in terms of format and content. These cookies do not store any personal data. They do not identify you or record your e-mail address.

Finally, some cookies on our site are also used for advertising purposes. These cookies do not record any personal data and are linked only to your browser, not to you. These cookies are used to tailor the advertisements on our websites as closely as possible to our visitors’ interests. These cookies are also used to keep track of the advertisements that visitors have already been shown, which keeps our visitors from being repeatedly subjected to the same advertisements.

What are the requirements of the cookie law?

The cookie law obliges website owners to inform visitors that their websites use cookies, just as we are doing on this page. In addition, websites are now required to request express permission to store cookies on your computer, which is referred to as the “opt-in provision” (consent requirement). In this respect, the Dutch law is stricter than the European directives, which contain an “opt-out provision” (which enables visitors to indicate that they do not wish cookies to be stored on their computer).

In practice, this means that all websites (including, for example, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) must ask permission to store cookies on your computer. Permission must be requested separately for each cookie that has not previously been shown.

In practical terms, this means that you will be confronted with a number of windows informing you which cookie will be stored before you can access a website and the information it contains. You must consent (opt in) to the storage of each cookie on your computer.

Why would I allow cookies to be saved on my computer?

Cookies help VHLGenetics to continuously improve its websites. We use the visitor statistics we collect to improve the ease of use, as well as the content, of our websites.

Much of the functionality of VHLGenetics websites depends on cookies. For example, we use cookies to enable you to log in to our websites. If you disable these cookies, some portions of our websites will no longer function properly.

How is VHLGenetics complying with the new law?

The cookie law was implemented very rapidly, which means that we are extremely busy making efforts to ascertain how we can comply with the law from a technical standpoint while still offering an optimal user experience to our website visitors.

How can I refuse to have cookies stored on my computer?

You can adjust the settings on your web browser to disable all cookies. You can also adjust your settings so that only the cookies of the website you are currently visiting will be stored on your computer. This option prevents third-party cookies from being stored on your computer.

In either case, that setting will apply to the entire Internet, not just to VHLGenetics websites. Your setting are always linked to a given web browser, which means that you will have to adjust the settings for every browser on every computer you use.