September 05, 2023
A Developer’s Guide and Reminders for Cookies
As a developer or startup, understanding how cookies are regulated under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Privacy eDirective is essential. While cookies play a significant role in website functionality and user experience, it’s crucial to handle them responsibly and respect user privacy. In this guide, we will cover the basics and provide friendly reminders for implementing cookies in a privacy-friendly manner.
What are Cookies:
Let’s begin with the basics. Cookies are small text files stored on a user’s device when they visit a website. These files hold data that can be retrieved by the website to enhance the user experience during future visits.
Types of Cookies:
Familiarize yourself with the different types of cookies:
- Session Cookies: Temporary cookies are deleted when the user closes their browser.
- Persistent Cookies: Remain on the user’s device for a specified period.
- First-party Cookies: Originate from the website being visited.
- Third-party Cookies: Come from external domains.
Building User Trust:
Transparency is key to gaining user trust. Ensure you provide clear and easily accessible information about the cookies used on your website and their purposes. Implement a Cookie Notice on your website to obtain explicit consent from users for non-essential cookies and offer them the ability to manage their preferences.
What to Display in Your Cookie Banner:
- Explicit Consent Actions: Clearly indicate the actions that allow users to give their consent. For example, using buttons like “Accept,” “Reject,” or “Customize Cookies” makes it easier for users to understand their options.
- Visibility: The cookie banner must be prominently displayed to attract users’ attention. It should be noticeable and easily distinguishable from other elements on the page.
Consent and legal basis:
Obtaining valid consent is crucial, and cookies must only be used after consent is given by the web visitor. Additionally, cookies must be specific and given for well-defined (specific) data processing purposes. General actions like participating in a game, confirming a purchase, or accepting general terms are not sufficient to validate consent. Choose the legal basis for processing data, either legitimate interest or consent.
Exceptions to Obtaining Consent:
In certain situations, obtaining user consent may not be necessary:
- When cookies are essential to provide a service explicitly requested by the user (e.g., remembering items in a shopping cart or ensuring security in banking applications).
- When cookies are indispensable for sending communications over electronic networks (e.g., cookies displaying necessary information in encrypted exchanges or identifiers for transactions, or performance and load-balancing cookies analyzed anonymously).
Requirements for Valid Consent:
For “non-functional” cookies and similar technologies, consent must meet the general lawfulness conditions as stated in the GDPR.
- Consent must be an affirmative action from the user, such as clicking a button or swiping to activate it, after clear information has been provided.
- Pre-ticked boxes or assumptions based on continued navigation, acceptance of general terms, or browser settings do not constitute valid consent.
Withdrawal of Consent:
Visitors must have the freedom to accept or reject cookies without facing any constraints, pressure, or external influence. Refusing consent should not result in the denial of certain services or benefits.
Enabling User Control:
Provide an intuitive interface where users can manage their cookie preferences, including the ability to opt-in or out of specific cookie categories. Make it easy for users to withdraw their consent if they change their minds.
Maintain a comprehensive Consent Record as evidence, as required by the GDPR. This record helps businesses effectively manage and demonstrate that they have obtained proper consent for cookie usage. Depending on the tool you use, record the following:
- Gather and Store Consent Settings: Collect and securely store users’ cookie consent preferences, recording whether a user has accepted or rejected specific types of cookies.
- Obtain Precise Consent for Each Purpose: Seek explicit consent from users for each specific cookie purpose, avoiding blanket consent and providing users with the option to choose which cookies they wish to allow or block.
By following this guide and respecting user privacy, you can ensure compliance with data protection regulations and build trust with your users.
For your analysis, there are analytical tools suggested by national data protection authorities and the European Commission. You can find more information about them here.
Ready to implement cookies responsibly? Ensure you follow our developer’s guide to comply with data protection regulations and prioritize user trust. Remember, transparency is key to gaining user confidence and making your website a privacy-friendly environment. If you haven’t already, check out our GDPR guide with iCure for valuable insights on data protection.
Please note that this information is for guidance and should not be considered as a legal advice.