With the proliferation of data gathering and usage, privacy has become a serious issue for both individuals and businesses. Cookie policies are an important component of data privacy and are often required by law to ensure that users’ data is handled responsibly.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about cookie policies – what they are, how they work, why they’re important and what goes into them. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to make sure your website is in compliance with the latest data privacy regulations. Let’s get started!
What Is a Cookie?
This is a pretty important thing to know before going any further. Cookies, sometimes referred to as HTTP cookies, web cookies, or browser cookies, are small pieces of data that websites store in your web browser. They’re used to save user preferences, website activity, and more.
Also read our article: What are cookies ?
How Cookies Work
Cookies are sent from a web server to the user’s computer each time they visit the site. On subsequent visits, the information stored in the cookie can be retrieved and used to customize the user’s experience. For example, if a website remembers your language settings from the first time you visited, you don’t have to change them again the next time.
Cookies can be used for a variety of purposes, such as tracking website activity, personalizing web page content, storing user preferences, and more. This can be helpful for users, as it allows websites to tailor their experience to a user’s needs.
Why Do Cookies Require Policies?
While their data-gathering nature can be helpful in many applications, it can also pose a privacy risk if used improperly. Several data privacy regulations require websites to obtain user consent before storing and accessing cookies (cookie consent), as well as have a policy outlining their practices. You can use a Consent Management Platform like CookieFirst for that.
No, cookie policies aren’t the same thing as privacy policies. The latter can be a part of the former, though. We’ll explain more below.
Privacy policies are larger – and often more detailed – documents. They outline the entire scope of a website’s data collection and use practices, including the types of information they collect, how it’s used, who has access to it, and how the website protects it.
Cookie policies, on the other hand, are more focused and specific. They focus solely on cookies – what types a website uses, the purpose of each, and the user’s rights over their data. Many websites opt to include their cookie policies within their general privacy policies, although doing so can be risky. In many cases, it just makes finding the right information harder and can open the door to compliance issues.
While cookie policies may seem like another thing to procrastinate on, they hold tremendous value to today’s businesses. They create transparency, foster trust with users, and can even help you stay compliant with applicable laws.
Studies estimate that by 2023, three-quarters of the globe will fall under the provisions of at least one data protection regulation. Yes, support for third-party trackers is expected to subside, but the technology as a whole isn’t going anywhere. In an increasingly digital world with colossal amounts of data, the future will almost certainly revolve around privacy.
While no two cookies policies will look the same, they should all disclose the same basic things.
The types of cookies used on a website: Cookie policies should outline the specific types of cookies a website uses. This means providing a comprehensive list of all the third-party cookies, as well as any first-party cookies that are in use.
The types of personal data the cookies process: The policy should also provide a detailed explanation of the types of personal data that the cookies process – such as IP addresses, browser type and language, etc.
The location cookies are processed: This includes a disclosure of where the user’s data will be processed, as well as any third-party countries or organizations involved in the process.
What purposes the cookies are used for: The policy should also provide an explanation of what the cookies are used for – such as analytics, advertising, user authentication, etc.
How long the data is retained: The policy should also state how long the user’s data is stored, or if it’s deleted after each session.
How users can opt-in or out of cookie usage: The policy should explain what users can do if they don’t want to have their data processed or stored.
What users can do if they change their minds: Many data privacy regulations place an emphasis upon ensuring consent is easily revokable. So the policy should explain how users can update or delete their stored data, if need be.
- Multi language support
- Easy-to-understand language
- The ability to customize the policy based on user preferences
Cookies are a challenging but important part of maintaining an online presence. While they can do a lot of good – including improving user experience, increasing website security, and providing better analytics – they also require just as much care when it comes to disclosure and transparency.