April 30, 2023

Cookie Consent Management Platforms: A Key to Privacy Compliance Success

This article explores how cookie consent management platforms (CMPs) can help businesses comply with privacy regulations and automate the process of obtaining and managing user consent for cookie usage. Discover the different types of cookies, the reasons behind their regulation, and how to remain compliant with applicable laws.

Cookies enhance user experiences and deliver personalized content, often translating into more business sales.

However, the reliance on personal data makes the effective and responsible use of cookies increasingly important. They ensure improvement of the overall user experience but also bring risks to online privacy.

As a result, various regulations and laws have been established to address these concerns and ensure that users are well-informed about how their data is being used, necessitating the implementation of digital cookie platforms, widely known as cookie consent management platforms (CMPs).

A CMP tool allows website owners to obtain and manage user consent for cookie usage while ensuring compliance with applicable privacy regulations. It ensures that everything is automated while the legal requirements are being met. If your site or mobile app uses cookies that handle personal information, you must use a cookie platform to automate it and remain compliant.

This article will delve into the world of cookies, their different types, the reasons behind their regulation, and how businesses can comply with the law using cookie consent management platforms. By the end of the article, you'll understand how cookies on your website or mobile app work, why laws want to regulate that, and how to comply quickly.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are small text files that websites store on a user's device when they visit a site. They create an identification for each specific user. They allow websites to remember user preferences and other information to tailor the online experience to the individual user. That's how other websites remember things about you when you return to them later.

The primary purpose of cookies is to enhance the user experience, such as remembering user preferences, language settings, or login information. They can even remember a credit card number for future seamless payments.

Cookies also help in website analytics by allowing site owners to track user behavior and understand how visitors interact with their content. They enable tools such as Google Analytics to know how a specific website user moves around the website and provide analytics about that. This information can be used to optimize site performance and improve the overall user experience.

Most importantly, cookies are instrumental in advertising and marketing efforts regarding online privacy. Like pixels and web beacons, cookies identify users, collect information about their browsing behavior, and enable advertisers to serve personalized and relevant ads to them. By doing so, cookies help businesses reach their target audience more effectively and generate higher engagement rates.

Long story short, cookies enable all the good experiences on the internet and tell advertisers what interests us. That's where online privacy becomes an issue.

There are many ways to differentiate cookies: first and third-party cookies, depending on the purpose, and so on. We have a deep-dive article on that, and you should check it out to learn more about it.

Here, we'll continue with regulations and how to meet their requirements.

Cookie Regulations

In the last few years, privacy and data protection concerns have led to the establishment of cookie regulations. Online businesses and some bad actors have learned to manipulate user behavior and opinions with cookies.

That's why data protection laws have become a necessity. These regulations' goal is to protect users' rights to privacy and control over their personal information while browsing the internet. The laws require businesses to collect personal information only from users who are comfortable with that.

There are a few significant data privacy laws. However, these days most of the world's largest economies have some kind of data protection laws. The only exception is the United States, where there is no federal law and only a few states have passed consumer privacy regulations on a state level.

The most important among them include:

  1. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU. This European Union regulation was enacted in 2018 and has significantly impacted how businesses handle personal data, including cookies. Under GDPR, organizations, in most cases, must obtain explicit consent from users before collecting or processing their personal data. There are only a few exceptions to that rule. In addition, websites must provide clear information about their cookie usage and allow users to opt in or opt-out of non-essential cookies.
  2. ePrivacy Directive. Also known as the "Cookie Law," this EU directive is a predecessor to the GDPR and focuses on privacy in electronic communications. it was passed more than 20 years ago, yet it requires websites to inform users about cookies and obtain their consent before using them. The only exception is the essential cookies, which can be used without consent. ePrivacy Directive and GDPR take the same stance on using cookies to collect personal data.
  3. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This US regulation, effective since 2020, gives California residents more control over their personal information. It is also significant because it started the trend in the US states to pass privacy regulations. In recent years, Virginia, Connecticut, Iowa, and Colorado, are only a few states that followed the Californian example. Unlike the European, Canadian, Brazilian, and many other laws worldwide, the CCPA does not require explicit consent for using cookies. All it requires from covered businesses is to comply with users’ opt-out requests. The CCPA also requires businesses to disclose their data collection practices, including cookie usage, and allow users to opt out of selling their personal information.
  4. Other global regulations. Many countries have adopted data protection and privacy laws, such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada, the Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) in Brazil, and the Data Protection Act in the UK. Aside from the US states’ laws, all the others are more or less similar to the GDPR.

Use Digital Cookie Platforms to Comply with Cookie Laws

Cookie Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) make it easy and effortless for businesses to navigate the complex landscape of cookie regulations while providing users with a seamless online experience. CMPs play several crucial roles:

  1. Facilitating cookie consent. CMPs ensure that users are presented with clear information about the website's cookie usage and are asked for consent so they can easily provide or withdraw their consent as required by applicable law.
  2. Managing user preferences. CMPs enable users to manage their cookie preferences, allowing them to choose which types of cookies they want to accept or reject.
  3. Ensuring compliance with regulations. Teams of developers and lawyers ensure that CMPs stay up-to-date with the most recent legal developments. That’s how they help businesses comply with various privacy regulations, reducing the risk of fines and reputational damage.

CMPs make this easy with features such as:

  1. Consent banner customization. CMPs allow website owners to design and customize consent banners to match their brand's look and feel, ensuring a consistent user experience. If you choose Secure Privacy, you can play with CSS to adjust the cookie banner to your brand.
  2. Cookie categorization. CMPs help categorize cookies according to their purpose (e.g., essential, analytics, marketing), enabling users to decide which cookies to accept.
  3. User preference storage. CMPs’ job is to request and record users’ cookie consent, ensuring that their choices are respected during future visits to the site.
  4. Consent log maintenance. CMPs maintain a log of user consent. You'll easily access the necessary records if a user or the data protection authority asks you to prove compliance.
  5. Integration with third-party services. To give you an idea, the Secure Privacy cookie platform integrates easily with Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, WordPress, Wix, and many other platforms. Moreover, it can integrate with other tools and services, such as analytics and advertising platforms, to ensure user consent is respected across all aspects of a website's operations.

Steps to Comply

Installing a CMP will solve most of the steps required to comply with the cookie laws. However, the whole process looks like this:

  1. Conduct a cookie audit to identify and understand all cookies used on the website, their purpose, and their source (first or third party).
  2. Create a transparent and user-friendly cookie policy that clearly explains the types of cookies used, their purpose, and how users can manage their preferences.
  3. Implement a Cookie Consent Management Platform (CMP) to facilitate user consent, manage preferences, and ensure adherence to privacy regulations.
  4. Regularly review and update cookie practices to maintain compliance, address regulation changes, and ensure a seamless user experience that respects user privacy.

You need to know what cookies your website uses. Then adjust the CMP to the actual situation.

Secure Privacy cookie platform is easy to use and comes at an affordable price. Check out the pricing here and sign up for a free trial.

Start your Free Trial