Do You Need A Cookie Notice On Your Website? Here's What You Should Know
Whether you need it or not, however, depends on where you operate and where your website visitors are from.
This article will delve into the essentials of cookies and privacy laws. You’ll learn the following:
- What are cookies, what do they mean for online privacy, and why do privacy laws regulate them;
- How to determine what data protection laws apply to your business;
- What does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require from website owners;
- What does the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) require from website owners;
- How to collect cookie consent properly by installing a cookie consent banner on your website.
What Are Cookies, and Why Are Cookie Laws Enforced?
Cookies are small text files that websites send to users’ devices to collect data. The collected data may sometimes be used to identify a person, and that’s where cookie laws become relevant.
Cookies may be first-party cookies that your website injects into users' devices or third-party cookies that third parties that have access to your website, such as the ads you place there, fire.
The next step is to determine what data protection laws apply to your website, so you’ll know where to look for the rules.
What Data Privacy Laws Apply to Your Website?
All the data privacy laws worldwide apply to:
- Businesses that operate within their jurisdiction, and
- Businesses targeting users in their jurisdiction.
In practice, this means that you must comply with the laws of your country and state and the laws of the countries and states that apply to your website visitors.
If your business is based in Germany and you sell to people in Europe, the US, or Canada, you must follow the following laws:
- The GDPR and the German national law because you are a German entity or individual, and
- The GDPR and the national laws of the European users
- The state laws of the US users, if any
- The Canadian laws for interaction with Canadian users
If you run a website from California and target website visitors throughout the United States, the CCPA and CPRA apply if you meet the thresholds prescribed in the laws. For interactions with users from a state where a statewide privacy law is in place, it applies as long as you meet the requirements for applicability prescribed there.
What Does the GDPR Require from Websites?
The GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive are based on the "opt-in" principle. This means you can't send cookies to users' devices until they give explicit consent that meets GDPR standards.
The GDPR consent requirements mean that the consent must be:
- Freely given, which means that the consent must not be conditional on anything;
- Informed, which means that the consent is valid only if you informed them about the details of processing upfront;
- Specific, which requires obtaining consent for each processing purpose separately, and
GDPR requires prior consent for all the cookies and identifiers that help process personal data but are not essential for the website’s functioning. This includes website performance cookies, functionality cookies, Google Analytics cookies, tracking pixels, and others.
Only essential cookies are allowed without consent, i.e., the cookies without which the website wouldn’t work.
To learn more about what each EU member state requires regarding website cookies, read our one-stop guide to EU cookie guidelines.
What Do the CCPA and CPRA Require from Websites?
CalOPPA, one of California’s privacy laws, requires websites to inform visitors how they react to the "Do Not Track" signals from web browsers. However, website operators are not obliged to comply with such signals.
Why Do You Need a Cookie Banner for Your Website?
A cookie banner will help you comply with the applicable data protection laws in a few clicks. Pop-up consent banners are still the best way to collect users’ consent on websites.
Whether you run an e-commerce website, a SaaS, sell courses, or run a blog, you must ask users for consent before setting cookies and other trackers. You must also ensure that your cookie consent solution records consent properly and allows users to adjust their cookie preferences.
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