- WHAT IS A COOKIE?
A cookie is a piece of computer code that your website may insert in a browser so it recognises a returning user to your site. For more information you can read the ICO website section on cookies.
We like cookies because they speed up how sites we visit. As business owners we like cookies because it allows us to work out what is popular or selling on our online sites.
Cookies can do way more than that and can be used to do way more than that.
As individual data subjects, we all worry about what exactly is being shared without our knowledge or consent.
If you did not design or set up your site, it is possible your site is running cookies that you don’t even know about.
- HOW DO YOU NOW WHAT COOKIES YOUR SITE USES?
If your site is on https (and it should be!):
One way is to type the URL of your home page into your browser and go to your home page. When the secure button comes up in the left-hand side of the space where the URL is displaying click the word secure and it will show how many cookies are running on your site.
For the majority of sites this will not be the correct answer since you probably used caching cookies (to help the site load faster) at the very least.
Your cookies policy will need to say/cover all of the items that are true.
Paraphrasing their definitions can give us an interesting way to look at cookies:
Session cookies – allow websites to link the actions of a user during a browser session. remembering what a user has put in their shopping basket as they browse around a site. These session cookies expire after a browser session so would not be stored longer term.
Persistent cookies – are stored on a users’ device in between browser sessions which allows the preferences or actions of the user across a site (or in some cases across different websites) to be remembered. Persistent cookies may be used for a variety of purposes including remembering users’ preferences and choices when using a site or to target advertising
First and third-party cookies – Whether a cookie is ‘first’ or ‘third’ party refers to the website or domain placing the cookie. First party cookies in basic terms are cookies set by a website visited by the user – the website displayed in the URL window. Third party cookies are cookies that are set by a domain other than the one being visited by the user. If a user visits a website and a separate company.
- CONSENT AND COOKIE POP UPS
- WordPress users here are some options
The important thing is that your visitors know what is going on when they visit your site and have a simple way to consent to cookie use or to opt out of it.
- EXAMPLE COOKIE WORDING
We will start a file in our group to collect cookie wording that seems clear and useful. If you find any sites you think have got it nailed, please add them.
They are copyright to other organisations, but they can give you inspiration.
We are not suggesting wording in detail for you as we don’t know what your cookies do! Here is one idea:
- Speed up how quickly the site loads if you come back (caching)
- Analyse how popular our pages and posts are (analytics)
- Track the user journey from arriving on site to leaving – so we can see what is popular and what content is working
- Identify if our advertising and/or social media brought you to visit us
- See who goes to our shopping cart for the first time (and identify if there were problems at the checkout stage)
- Work out which sites are sending visitors to us
- Track purchases from affiliates so we can give them their commission
- Remember returning visitors and customers
If you turn off all cookies, some or all of our site may not perform properly. You can turn them off by using the settings in your browser.
The Information Commission has guidance on cookies which can be found here.
ICO’s samples can be used but they need simplification.
ICO’s sample from their guidance on cookies:
Our website uses four cookies. A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that we put on your computer if you agree. These cookies allow us to distinguish you from other users of the website which helps us to provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allows us to improve our site. The cookies we use are ‘analytical’ cookies. They allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors and to see how visitors move around the site when they’re using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works, for example by making sure users are finding what they need easily. Read more about the individual analytical cookies we use and how to recognise them [link]
- IN CONCLUSION