The EU cookie law refers to an electronic privacy regulation that directs website owners to get visitors’ consent prior to placing a cookie on their device. A cookie is the text file that a website stores on a computer or mobile device to help them keep track of your preferences or whether you want to stay logged in. The fact that cookies tend to store almost anything has raised privacy concerns among users. For instance, Facebook’s ‘like’ button that has been employed by the website to keep a tab on people on sites other than Facebook has intensified the issue.
As a matter of fact, our own websites do not have this. Nevertheless, if a client requires it, we can provide a popup to request users to accept cookies. The cookies will get saved only when the user grants permission to do so. However, it is worth mentioning that not many websites have adopted this practice. A majority of the websites store cookies on the users’ computer or mobile device without their permission. With this law being enforced, things are expected to change very soon.
Is it just about cookies?
No. This law affects anything that allows websites to store data on the device. Flash cookies and HTML5 Local Storage are also capable of saving data on the user’s device. The major cause of concern is that cookies have the potential of storing almost everything and there have been instances where they could track the user’s online activities remotely. This has made the ICO to implement this policy so as to instil confidence among internet users.
What cookies does the website store?
All information regarding the storage of cookies is in the hands of the webmaster. In case you are relying on a third party website developer there are chances that you might never get to know the entire cookie information. Nonetheless, a popup that warns the website user before allowing cookies can solve the issue. If the user denies permission, no text files shall be saved and he can continue with browsing the website.
What is the purpose of storing cookies?
Basically, cookies are classified into 4 categories depending on which their function is determined.
- Essential: These are the ones required for your website to function smoothly. For instance, if a user wants to be logged in, such cookies are essential.
- Non-essential: These aren’t needed for the core functionality of the website.
- Intrusive Cookies: Such cookies can be employed to track people but doesn’t capture a user’s online signature. Google Analytics stores these types of cookies.
- Highly Intrusive: Used to track people and provides personally identifiable information to the website. Cookies deployed by Facebook belong to this category.
It is the Intrusive cookies that have raised eyebrows. No user wants their online signature to be tracked by websites. This has made the ICO to pass a regulation according to which users should be informed whether or not they would like to store cookies on their device.