Info on the new website Cookie laws

There have been new laws come into force lately regarding the use of “cookies” on websites. A storm of panic and misinformation has followed, so here’s our take on it.

What are Cookies?

Small text files that are saved to your computer or mobile when you visit certain websites. They can keep track of what’s in your shopping cart, or let the website know you have been there before on a return visit.

Levels of Cookies

Broadly put, there are four levels of Cookie, getting more intrusive the higher the number:

  1. Strictly Necessary – Shopping cart contents, login information and other things related to what the person asks the site to do. No explicit consent required.
  2. Performance – Including things like Google Analytics, anonymous data used to monitor website statistics like visitor counts etc. Consent required ideally, but unlikely to get you in trouble as long as an explanation is clearly linked to on your website.
  3. Functionality – Changing region, font size etc that is retained between visits to a website. Explicit consent required from the user.
  4. Targeting/Advertising – Tracking users across multiple websites, tailoring adverts to their browsing history and other slightly creepy monitoring. Explicit consent required from the user.

How we use Cookies when we build websites

We usually only use software that sets Cookies from levels 1 and 2. Ecommerce websites will use level 1 for shopping cart contents and customer logins. Ecommerce and information websites we set up usually use Google Analytics, so both use level 2 Cookies.

Summary

In most cases, there’s basically nothing to worry about right now. Your website may need to make your Cookie Use and Privacy Policy more prominent, please contact us on 01636 812 551 if you’d like us to check Cookie usage on your website and/or make any changes.

Nick

PS: If you are interested in reading more, here are some useful links:
The Information Commissioner’s Office – with video explanation
EConsultancy – Is Google Analytics under threat from the cookie law?

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