Cookie laws – what you need to know
When mentioning the word ‘cookies’, in this tech-savvy world more of us will think of the tracking tools used by websites than that much-loved teatime snack. And if you’re not already thinking this way, from next month you will have to.
Websites in the UK were given 12 months to comply with the regulations. As that date draws nearer, it’s important for sites to make sure that their operations meet with the regulations.
There are two types of cookies in use on the web – session cookies, which are only active as long as the browser window is open and are removed once the session is ended, and persistent cookies. Put simply, persistent cookies are designed to both improve and speed up the browsing experience for users (by storing information about their preferences on their computer’s hard drive) and to allow websites to tailor content to said users, based on the information contained in the cookies.
Of course, nowadays the most popular use for cookies on sites that track your information (such as Google) is to store your information and your browsing habits in order to deliver targeted content and advertising. While this sort of activity gave rise to the term ‘malicious’ cookies when it was first conceived, the activity has become commonplace, though carefully controlled. Sites that make a practise of using your data, such as Google and Facebook, are now required to disclose far more information about how they use your data.
With the change in the law set to potentially affect a number of sites, those that rely on cookies will be required to rethink their strategy on how they use them if they want to retain their users and avoid a heavy fine.