What is a Cookie Policy? | Types, Functions and Legal Requirements Explained!

Cookies are trackers that are placed on your computer or mobile device by a website as you access the site. They collect information about your interactions with a website to remember settings and preferences. 

A cookie policy is a legal document that outlines the rules and regulations regarding cookies on a website. It makes users aware of how their personal information data is being used. Websites use cookies for many reasons, such as remembering your preferences, collecting statistical data, and providing you with targeted advertising.

It builds trust between you and your customers and can help keep them coming back to your site. 

Types and Functions of Cookies

A cookie policy should explain what types of cookies are used and their purpose.

Functionality Cookies

Functionality cookies are essential for the performance of some functions on the website. They allow websites to remember users' personal information like their login data and language. They use this data to personalize the users' experience. These cookies are anonymous and do not track browsing activity across other websites.

First-party Cookies

First-party cookies are directly stored by the domain you visit. They are generally considered more harmless because websites can use them to track users' interactions with the first-party domain. 

Third-party Cookies

Some cookies are created and stored on your device by a different website from the one you are visiting. These are called third-party cookies. They collect and process a user's personally identifiable information (PII) for advertising purposes. 

Analytics Cookies

Analytics cookies give information on how users interact with the website. For instance, they track the number of users on a site, how long they stay on and what information they are interested in. 

Web analytics services like Google Analytics use cookies to collect data about how users interact with a website. This data is used to tailor the content to individual users. As a result, analytics cookies improve the performance of Google services.

Persistent Cookies

Persistent cookies are cookies saved on the disk and do not expire when the web browser is closed. Instead, they continue to transmit data to the web server every time you open a new page on your browser.

Persistent cookies are used to track and authenticate users. Session Cookies are temporary and particular to a session. They exist as long as the session is active. When you close your web browser, they expire.

a person holding a tablet with cookies notes on the screen

Legal Requirements for Cookie Policy

Cookies policy is a legal requirement in some jurisdictions. The first legislation regulating how websites use cookies and other trackers is the EU’s ePrivacy Directive. The cookie law is actually a nickname of the EU’s ePrivacy Directive because it clearly includes cookies as part of personal information. 

It requires all websites to provide clear and concise information about their cookies and what they are used for. They must also get explicit consent from users before storing or retrieving any information on their computers.

If you do not comply with the legal requirement on cookies, you could face prohibitive penalties. Your users may not view your site as trusted and may avoid it. Some laws like the CCPA give exceptions to the consent requirement. However, consumers should be informed of the existing cookies using a banner.

How Websites Obtain Consent

Most cookies are harmless and improve the user experience. Still, some cookies can pose a privacy risk if they are used to collect sensitive information without the knowledge or consent of the users. Information collected may include:

  • Your IP address and other login details
  • Your browser type and version
  • The pages you visit on our website
  • The time and date of your visit
  • The amount of time you spend on each page
  • Your general location.

Web pages should have a statement in their settings that lets users know that they can reject cookies or accept them and a button that allows them to do so.

You should read the information provided by the website owner carefully before consenting to cookies. If you do not want to consent to cookies, you can usually refuse cookies or delete them in your browser settings. However, blocking cookies may affect the way different websites work.

What Clauses Should Every Cookie Policy Include?

  • A statement that the site uses cookies and why
  • What types of cookies are used on the site
  • How visitors can manage cookies
  • Contact information for the website owner or operator
  • The date the policy was last updated
  • A link to your privacy policy
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How to Create a Cookie Policy

You can create a cookie policy separately or link it to the privacy policy that you already have in place. Another way of creating a cookie policy is by using a free Cookie Policy Generator. Just enter your website details, and they will generate a custom cookie policy for you. You can then copy and paste the code into your website.

A cookie bot is a cookie policy management platform that enables website owners to create and manage their cookie policies.

If you want to write the policy yourself, cover all the bases.

  1. Start by informing users that the website uses cookies.
  2. Briefly explain what cookies are.
  3. Create a list of all the cookies you use and what they are used for.
  4. Provide a simple and clear way for users to accept or decline using cookies.
  5. Include detailed information on how visitors can avoid having cookies stored on their computers.
  6. Provide instructions on deleting cookies that have already been stored.
  7. Remember to use simple language that is accessible to all your users and be transparent.

Once you're done, post the policy on your website and make sure it's easily accessible to visitors. A good place to put it is in your website's footer. And don't forget to link to your privacy statement.

Automatic Cookie Policy With Cookiebot

A cookie bot is a cookie policy management platform that enables website owners to create and manage their cookie policies. The platform provides a hassle-free way to generate a cookie policy that complies with the EU cookie law

In addition, the platform provides a wide range of options for customizing the policy, including the ability to add or remove cookies, change the policy's language, and set expiration dates. It also offers an easy-to-use interface for managing consent preferences and tracking user interactions with the policy.

Enforcing Your Cookie Policy

Enforcing your policy is important if you want to avoid hefty fines. So make sure you put a system in place to make sure all visitors to your website or app are aware of your policy and have consented to have cookies stored on their computers. There are a few different ways you can do this:

  • One option is to show a cookie banner on your website that informs visitors about your use of cookies and links to your policy.
  • Pop-ups: You can use a pop-up or banner to notify visitors about your cookies policy and ask for their consent. Just make sure the pop-up is clear and easy to understand,
  • Terms and conditions: You can add a statement to your website's terms and conditions that require visitors to agree to your use of cookies before using the site. However, this method is less effective because most people don't read the terms and conditions before using a website.
  • Keep track of consent: Make sure you keep track of who has consented to your use of cookies. You can do this in a few ways, including using a cookie consent management tool or keeping a record of when someone agrees to your policy.
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Cookie Policy FAQS

Do I Need a Cookie Policy on My Website?

The simple answer is yes - if your website is accessed from within the European Union, you must have a cookies policy. If you do not comply, you could face stiff fines. The only exception is if your website or app doesn't use cookies.

Should I Accept the Cookie Policy?

Deciding whether to accept or delete cookies is entirely up to you. The cookie law lets you control your data and browsing history. However, declining cookies may make the site not work properly and prevent you from having a full user experience on some domains.

Why Do You Need a Cookie Policy?

A cookie policy is legally required by the GDPR and most other privacy laws that require that you disclose to visitors what information you collect from them. You also need to get explicit consent from visitors before storing or retrieving any information on their computers. Better safe than sorry.

Do I Need a Cookie Policy for my App?

If your app uses cookies or other tracking technologies, then a website's cookie policy is essential. It requires that you disclose what information you collect from visitors and get their explicit consent before storing or retrieving any information on their computers.

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