What are Cookies? (IT)

Cookies are a common tool used online to learn about and respond to user website activities. They are stored on your device’s web browser by the websites you visit. Most websites, web applications and mobile applications use cookies to improve your user experience and deliver relevant ads to you.

Whenever you visit a website, the website sends a cookie to the device you’re using to access the website. Your device automatically stores the cookie in a file that’s located within your web browser.

When you revisit a site, the website will respond in a more personalized way, remembering your preferences, providing faster page load times and so forth.

How are Cookies Used?

Cookies have many uses. Membership websites and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter use cookies to remember login credentials (username and password) so you don’t have to enter them manually every time you access the website. Cookies can also be used to display custom advertisements based on your previous search history and web browsing behavior. If you’ve been browsing the Internet searching for travel mugs, then you’ll probably see ads for travel mugs on sites that implement custom banner advertisements.

Some businesses run marketing campaigns that are designed so that first-time visitors on the website are shown certain information, while returning visitors are shown different information.

Cookies can determine whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning visitor so that the website can display the ads that are most relevant to you.

What is a Cookies Policy?

A Cookies Policy is used to inform your site’s visitors that you’re using cookies on your website, web app, or mobile app. It should include information about the types of cookies you’re using, how you’re using them, and how users can control the way cookies are managed on their devices.

Most Privacy Policies include a section on Cookies that explains all of this information.

However, if your business is based in the European Union (EU), the EU Cookies Directive requires you to have a separate Cookies Policy. You also must acquire informed consent from website users before placing cookies on their devices.

In the following sections we’ll take a closer look at the different clauses that websites include in their Cookies Policies. But before we do that, let’s quickly go over why it’s useful to post a Cookies Policy to your website, especially if your business is based in the EU.

Why is a Cookies Policy Useful?

Cookies Policies are useful to help you comply with laws, while keeping your users informed.

In the United States, if you use cookies you’re required by law to have a Privacy Policy posted on your website that discloses your use of cookies. You are not required to have a separate Cookies Policy if your website only attracts non-EU citizens.

However, if you are doing business that targets EU member states, then you are required to comply with the EU’s laws regarding cookies.

According to the EU Cookies Directive, you must post a Cookies Notice on your website that is separate from your Privacy Policy.