Many web visitors daily visit this page to know about cookies. You’ve perhaps visited one of our clients’ website and decided to read more about this cookie thing. You are in the right zone, read on.
What are Cookies Anyway?
Cookies are a kind of short term memory for the web. They are stored in your browser and enable a site to ‘remember’ little bits of information between pages or visits.
Cookies are pieces of data, normally stored in text files, that websites place on visitors’ computers to store a range of information, usually specific to that visitor – or rather the device they are using to view the site – like the browser or mobile phone.
They were created to overcome a limitation in web technology. Web pages are ‘stateless’ – which means that they have no memory, and cannot easily pass information between each other. So cookies provide a kind of memory for web pages.
Cookies allow you to login on one page, then move around to other pages and stay logged in. They allow you to set preferences for the display of a page, and for these to be remembered the next time you return to it.
Cookies can also be used to watch the pages you visit between sites, which allows advertisers to build up a picture of your interests. Then when you land on a site that shows one of their adverts – they can tailor it to those interests. This is known as ‘behavioural advertising’.
Cookies are incredibly useful – they allow modern websites to work the way people have come to expect – with every increasing levels of personalisation and rich interactive functionality.
However, they can also be used to manipulate your web experience in ways you might not expect, or like. It could be to your benefit, or the benefit of someone else – even a business or organisation that you have never had any direct contact with, or perhaps heard of.
The Cookie Law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
It was designed to protect online privacy, by making consumers aware of how information about them is collected and used online, and give them a choice to allow it or not.
Why Cookie Law?
There are other technologies, like Flash and HTML5 Local Storage that do similar things, and these are also covered by the legislation, but as cookies are the most common technology in use, it has become known as the Cookie Law.
All websites owned in the EU or targeted towards EU citizens, are now expected to comply with the law.
What it Means For Business
If you own a website, you will need to make sure it complies with the law, and this usually means making some changes. If you don’t comply you risk enforcement action from regulators, which in the UK means The Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO). In exceptional cases this can mean a fine.
If you own a website that visited by EU citizens (including UK), read more on what to do here>>