Like most web applications that work with Learning Management Systems (LMS), Digication uses third-party cookies to display its content seamlessly within course pages within your LMS. In response to a changing legal environment and growing concerns about Internet privacy, web browsers are making the default handling of third-party cookies more restrictive. In practical terms, this change in third-party cookie handling will eventually require users who access Digication via your LMS to open Digication in a new window. Additional details can be found below.
Cookies are small files stored by websites on your computer. They are designed largely to shape the user experience: cookies record users’ preference for appearance, language, and other features, and their presence on a user’s system allows the site to adopt these preferences automatically when a user visits without having to reset them every time. Cookies are also used to remember your login status. Without cookies, websites would not be able to keep you logged in and provide you with information specific to you. Almost every website you visit deposits a cookie related directly to that site’s functioning on your system; when they’re created by the site you are visiting, cookies are termed first-party cookies.
Third-party cookies are files created by sources other than the website you are visiting. Many such cookies are used for advertising; as you browse an online store, for example, the site might deposit a cookie connected to Google AdSense designed to track the items you viewed so that when you visit other sites to which Google/AdSense are connected, those sites can serve ads for items like those previously viewed, increasing the chances that the viewer will purchase them.
Though third-party cookies are familiar to us through advertising, they also have non-commercial uses. Learning Management Systems like Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace, Direct2Learn and others rely on third-party cookies to facilitate the functioning of separate applications – such as Digication – within them.
As the Google/AdSense scenario described above illustrates, many third-party cookies operate by collecting user information and repurposing it in ways of which the user may not be fully aware. For this reason, concern has grown over recent years about the degree to which third-party cookies violate privacy. A number of legislative initiatives, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, passed in April of 2016, and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), enacted in June of 2018, establish guidelines for businesses’ usage and disclosure of user information, including through the use of third-party cookies. The creators of web browsing software have responded to the growing concern and legal guidelines by altering the way their browsers handle third-party cookies. Two of the main web browsers, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, now block third-party cookies by default, and a third, Google Chrome, is slated to follow by mid-2023.
What this Means for You as a User of Digication
The impending changes in browsers’ use of third-party cookies will affect the experiences of Digication users who log in to the application through a Learning Management System. Clicking on the Digication link from within an LMS requires the use of a third-party cookie: you are logged in to the LMS and Digication simultaneously, within the same browser window. When third-party cookies are blocked, attempts to log in to Digication in the same browser tab or window will result in an error message like the one below.
Error arising from an attempt to access Digication via LTI with third-party cookies blocked
In practical terms, this means that users who access Digication via LMS will have to open Digication in a new browser window.
Our engineers are aware of this upcoming change and working on ways to minimize disruptions in the Digication user experience.
Our LTI documentation will be updated to reflect this change when it is implemented.
Mitigatory Actions Available to Admins
Administrators can also take action to help mitigate this issue in the following ways:
- Update your LMS at the system level or the course level so the Digication LTI tool will always open in a new window.
- Advise users to open LTI tools in a new window.
- Advise users to use Google Chrome, bearing in mind that by mid-2023 Chrome users, like the users of other browsers, will have to open Digication and LMS in different browser windows.
- Advise users to override the browser default settings and allow third-party cookies (not recommended).