Do I Need a Cookie Policy on My Website?

The Cookie Law is all about privacy. It’s a piece of legislation requiring websites to obtain consent from website visitors to store or retrieve information on a smartphone, computer or tablet. The purpose of the law is to let consumers know how information about them is collected and used online, as well as giving them a choice to allow it or not.

It originated as a European Union (EU) directive which was adopted in 2011 by all EU countries.  All websites owned in the EU or targeted towards EU citizens, even if located in the United States, are expected to comply with the law.  If you have a website in the United States and get visitors from the EU, a cookie warning or popup notice is needed to satisfy the EU laws.  Individuals are provided the right to refuse the use of cookies, which reduce their online privacy.

What are Cookies?

Cookies are bits of programming code that are stored in your web browser, enabling a website to collect information about your visit, such as which pages you visited.

Your behavioral data is tracked in the cookie, and then commonly used to determine content or advertisements to show you.

For instance, if you visit an automobile dealership website, they may collect data through cookies that you visited pages on pickup trucks they have for sale. You may then notice an increase in the number of truck ads you see as you surf the Internet. This happens because cookies were placed on your web browser, letting the ads to be shown to you. This may aid in your search for a new truck, so it can be a good thing.

When visiting a website that has been updated to include the Cookie Law’s provisions, you’ll be prompted to accept the site being allowed to place cookies on your browser. You do have a choice to accept it, or not. If you choose not to approve, there will be no cookies installed.  However, you still will be allowed to stay on the site just the same as if you had accepted. The website has fulfilled its obligations to let you know about the cookie policy.

It’s common practice for websites to use cookies to store information in people’s web browsers.  Some websites contain hundreds of cookies. Flash and HTML5 act in a similar manner and are also subject to the same legislation.

What Should I Do?

  • Inventory what cookies your site contains and what they are used for. Your web developer can provide this.
  • Let visitors know how you use cookies on your site and what for, such as Facebook advertising).
  • Obtain your visitors consent with a cookie acceptance prompt on the website. Programming will be needed to accomplish this.

If you are the owner of a website, or maintain one, you must be sure it is compliant with the Cookie Law.  If you don’t, you risk enforcement actions from regulators. In exceptional cases a fine can be imposed.

Consult with Byte Technology and let the experts tell you what you need to do to be in compliance. By letting your site visitors know about your use of cookies you build credibility by mirroring what major players are doing, as well as protecting yourself against repercussions from not complying.

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