A cookie is a small text file which is downloaded by a website provider or advertiser onto a visitor’s hard drives when they visit an internet site. Cookies collect a wide range of information about internet users and, as a result of pressure from the EU, are subject to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
Website operators should carry out a cookie audit to ascertain what type of cookies they are using, the type of information collected, the lifespan of cookies, the purpose of those cookies, how intrusive those cookies are and whether third parties are able to implant cookies on the website.
A visitor to a website should give its specific and informed consent by some form of active means. Consent can be implied but the provider must inform the user that a specific action on his part will be so interpreted and the provider must satisfy himself that the user’s actions constitute an indirect expression of the user’s consent to the setting of cookies.
Types of cookies:
- Persistent cookies: these cookies remain on a user’s device for a period of time. They are activated every time that the user visits the website that created that type of cookie.
- Session cookies: these cookies are temporary and allow website operators to link the actions of a user during a browser session. A browser session starts when a user opens the browser window and finishes when they close the browser window.
There are four main categories of cookies:
- Strictly necessary cookies: these are cookies which are required for the operation of a website. They allow visitors to move around the website easily and use its features. An example of such a cookie is an online shopping basket.
- Performance cookies: these cookies collect anonymous data about the visitor to help the website operator to count the number of visitors to the site, track what pages visitors look at, and how a visitor uses the site.
- Functionality cookies: these cookies collect identifiable data about a visitor such as name, location, or language to improve the functionality of the website by providing personal features. For instance, your name is recalled so that you can be greeted by name if you return to the site or your location is remembered so that a website can provide local travel or weather reports.
- Targeting cookies: these cookies record a person’s visit to a website, the pages visited and the links followed. The information collected is used to deliver certain adverts relevant to the visitor’s interests, previous selections or searches, and browsing habits. Information is often shared with third parties such as advertisers.
We can also advise you on obtaining consent from visitors to your website for the cookies used on your website.