Let’s face it, browser cookies are an unavoidable part of contemporary life, and you must accept them… or do you? And why is it that every British website always asks about cookies? We’ll demonstrate why you do, in fact, have a choice.
What Are Cookies, Exactly?
Browser cookies are little text files that your browser downloads automatically when you visit certain websites. Cookies frequently contain user preferences that are carried over from page to page on the same site, but they can also contain identifying information that allows the site to recognize you when you return.
The disadvantage is that any website can read cookies placed by other websites, which means they can be readily exploited to follow your surfing behaviors across the web without your knowledge—something that many online ad networks do. Although cookies aren’t always terrible, they can be abused. As a result, discussions about cookies are sometimes lumped in with other online privacy concerns.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted by the European Union in 2016 and took effect in May 2018. In accordance with the ePrivacy Directive of 2002/2009, websites hosted in the EU must get visitors’ consent before tracking them with cookies. EU websites must comply with the following regulations:
- Before using any cookies that aren’t strictly necessary, get permission first.
- Before obtaining consent, provide details about what each cookie tracks.
- Keep track of whether or not site visitors have given their consent.
- If visitors have already given their consent, make it simple for them to remove it.
- Allow visitors to access the site even if they do not want certain cookies to be used.
To comply with these restrictions, website designers designed pop-up dialogs that inform you of their cookie usage and, in certain cases, ask you to approve or reject specific tracking cookies.
If a site employs “strictly essential cookies,” which enable the site to function (such as a shopping cart) but do not follow you across sites, they do not need to get consent, but they should still inform you that cookies are being used. As a result, pop-ups stating things like “We utilize cookies” have shown, with no option to accept or reject them.
You Have the Right to Reject Cookies!
Any website that complies with EU cookie rules must allow you to visit the site even if you reject their tracking cookies, as stated in the last guideline in the list above. Otherwise, the site may face sanctions and fines.
So, the next time a website asks if you want to accept cookies, just reply no, and you’ll be able to browse the web a little more privately than before.