July 7, 2022

Everything You Need to know About Cookie Policy

When you process personal data, you have to be transparent to users about which cookies you use. That’s where a cookie policy comes in handy. Read about them here.

Cookies are small files that your website sends to users’ devices to track their online behavior; thus, cookies assist you in processing users' personal data. 

When you process personal data, you have to be transparent to users about that. That’s where a cookie policy comes in handy.

What is a Cookie Policy?

The cookie policy is the document in which you explain to your users everything your website does with cookies

A cookie policy is not explicitly required by the GDPR nor any other data protection law, but it is frequently encountered on complying websites. The transparency principle is always one of the principles underlying most data protection regulations around the world. 

The transparency principle requires websites to communicate with the users about data processing (Take a look at our Data Processing Agreement Guide). Cookies are popular means for gathering data for processing on websites; consequently, website owners must clarify how they utilize cookies on their sites.

Aside from informing users about cookies, online businesses use cookie policies to alert users when any website tracking technology is being used. Because of this, cookie regulations frequently include pixels, tags, and other internet trackers. 

Did you think cookies are included in privacy policies? Yes, they can be included in privacy policies, but a separate cookie policy is a more appropriate document for informing the users about your tracking practices.

Cookie Policy v. Privacy Policy

The cookie policy and the privacy policy are both tools for adopting the transparency principle in your business operations. They both inform users of your relationship with their personal data. However, they are not the same. 

The privacy policy informs users about all of your privacy practices. It describes everything from processing purposes and data collecting to data subject rights and data security procedures. It is a detailed document in which you must provide enough information to allow the user to make an informed decision before sharing their personal data with you. 

Although many data protection laws do not explicitly demand it, the privacy policy is the most popular technique for educating users about privacy practices. 

The cookie policy, on the other hand, is concerned with the tracking technology that you employ. It simply informs about the purposes and privacy-invading practices of data collecting. The cookie policy would not say anything about the data that the user freely provides to you. It solely refers to data that you have collected yourself. 

The cookie policy is simply a convenient approach to telling users about the cookies and other tracking technology on your website. There is no legal requirement for it. If you do not have a cookie policy, you must include that information in your privacy policy. 

You need to tell users about the cookies, pixels, and tags. You can put it in the privacy policy. Still, if you rely on several different cookies, it is better to have a separate cookie policy and remove that burden from the privacy policy.

Essential Elements of Each Cookie Policy

The cookie policy needs to explain to the user why, how, and what you collect by using cookies. The essential elements of a cookie policy would be:

Types of cookies. A fully transparent cookie policy should inform the user in-depth about the cookies the website uses. The policy should contain the types of cookies the website uses and a brief explanation of each one of them.

In practice, this would mean that you need to:

  • Determine the types of cookies you use depending on various criteria (first-party v. third-party, session v. persistent, etc.)
  • List all the cookies in your cookie policy, and
  • Explain what they do in terms of data privacy. 

Read more about the types of cookies here.

Purpose of each cookie. You must understand why you use each cookie before utilizing it. Your reasons must be included in your cookie policy. This section of the cookie policy will overlap with the section of your privacy policy titled "purposes." The privacy policy, on the other hand, will include information about all of the data processing reasons. In contrast, the cookie policy's goals will only apply to the reasons for data processing with the use of cookies. 

How to remove cookies from the device and/or withdraw cookie consent. The GDPR, LGPD, and other data protection laws require you to provide the user with the ability to withdraw previously granted consent at any time. 

Therefore, your cookie policy needs to provide information on how to withdraw cookie consent and delete the cookies stored on their device.

How to Get a Compliant Cookie Policy

There are two significant ways to complain about a cookie policy: by doing it yourself or using a cookie policy made-for-you service.

Do-It-Yourself Approach

If you go the DIY route, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Determine which data protection laws apply to your business. The applicable laws will be your starting point in determining the content of your policy.
  2. Check out the cookie guidelines you need to comply with. The majority of EU member states' data protection agencies have issued guidelines regarding cookie guideline compliance. Check those out to make sure you're following the guidelines and staying inside the legal limitations. We have a full post on EU cookie guidelines where you can get all of the information you need before moving on to the next step. 
  3. Setting up cookies. You now understand what you can and cannot do to legally set up the use of cookies. 
  4. Implement a cookie consent solution. You must not use cookies unless you have obtained explicit consent. You must build a cookie banner that requests consent and keeps track of the consent granted. We have a full post about cookie banners that contains all of the relevant information. 
  5. Write your privacy policy. Users are informed about the preceding four stages by your privacy policy. Check that it contains all of the necessary components that we discussed earlier. 

Remember that just because you have a cookie policy does not mean you don't need a privacy policy. To be legally compliant, you must still have a privacy policy. 

Done-For-You Approach

In the done-for-you approach, you need to employ the services of a cookie policy provider, such as Secure Privacy. You must follow the same four stages as with the DIY option, but you do not need to draft the cookie policy yourself. 

Our SAAS will generate the cookie policy for you automatically. It will populate the necessary areas with the necessary information and ensure that your cookie policy is up to date and legally compliant. 

Start your free trial here.