What are cookies?
Cookies are nothing but just a small amount of data, which a website stores on the user’s device (computers, mobiles, tablets or any any other devices) when they access the website through a web browser.
These cookies allow the websites to remember user’s actions and preferences from time to time when they interacted with the website. Usually, all the browsers support cookies. However, we can change the settings of our browsers to decline or delete the cookies as well.
How are cookies saved on our device?
This is not the second, but the first question that comes to our mind when we hear the word cookie. Who allows these cookies to be saved on our computer systems?
Have you ever wondered why do you get to see only those digital ads, which match your interests surfing the internet or visiting the websites?
This matching interest ad targeting is done with the help of cookies. The websites we surf save their cookies on our devices, and later, these cookies are tracked by the digital advertising agencies to throw the ad of our interest in front of us.
The ad agencies believe that if they place matching interest ads before us, they can get better conversions. Cookies act as a blessing in disguise to them.
What are the different types of cookies?
Cookies are also a sugary eatable, which comes in various flavours and preparations. But we are not talking about them here. We are talking about the internet cookies and they too have their types.
The internet cookies can be classified by its lifespan and domain, into two broad categories.
By Lifespan, cookies can be further classified as:
- Session Cookie (This cookie is temporary and is deleted automatically once the browser is closed)
- Persistent Cookie (This cookie is saved in our device for a particular period of time, as defined by the website where it is used)
By Domain, cookies can be further classified as:
- First Party Cookie (These are set by the web server of the visited page and shares the same domain)
- Third Party Cookie (These are stored by a different domain to the visited page’s domain)
The Cookie Law is a privacy legislation that requires websites to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on their device. It was introduced for the online privacy of users, by making them aware of how information about them is collected and used online and also give them a choice to allow it or not.
The UK adopted the principles of the Cookie Law in an update to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. The official websites of European Union had to follow the EC’s guidelines on data protection and privacy. In short, we can conclude that all over the world, EC's guidelines are being followed. Some of the prominent cookie laws are discussed below.
European Union (EU) Cookie Law
EUROPEAN websites (Official websites of EU) are required to compulsorily follow the EC’s (European Commission) guidelines on data and privacy protection. EU cookie law requires all the websites operating in Europe to inform the users, who are coming to their website that the cookies are not being used to gather information unnecessarily.
According to the law, the websites are required to ask the users if they agree to most of the cookies and similar technologies (e.g. Flash, web beacons, etc.) before they start to use them.
However, some cookies don’t require any consent of the user and can be used without informing them. For example, if the cookies are used for the purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication, etc.
Moreover, the cookies that are clearly exempted from the consent of the user are :
- user‑input cookies (session-id) - like first‑party cookies which are used to keep track of the user's input when filling online forms, shopping carts, etc., for the duration of a session or persistent cookies limited to a few hours in some cases.
- authentication cookies - which are used to identify the user once he has logged in, for the duration of a session.
- user‑centric security cookie - which is used to detect authentication abuses, for a limited persistent duration.
- multimedia content player cookie - which is used to store technical data to playback video or audio content, for the duration of a session.
- load‑balancing cookies - used for the duration of a session as per pre-defined.
- user‑interface customization cookies - used for language or font preferences, for the duration of a session (or slightly longer).
- third‑party social plug‑in content‑sharing cookies - used for logged‑in members of a social network.
The European Commission clearly states that “All Websites owned in the EU or targeted towards EU citizens, are now expected to comply with the law.”
Moreover, from time to time, it keeps updating its law for the better convenience and data security/safety of the user. In the last update in May 2018, one of the main highlights that EU introduced was that it made compulsory for the websites to get the consent from the user to access the cookies by providing the explanation of each and every cookie used on their website.
So now, if you want your website to reach the crowd of European Union, follow the Cookie Law/Policy.