Thinking about using tracking cookies? If you plan to log data from European Union (EU) residents, you’d better be GDPR-compliant. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the world’s strictest consumer privacy laws. It regulates the authority of companies to collect, store, and process data—and failures to comply could cost your company tens of millions of pounds.
The GDPR is designed to protect consumer data, which includes cookie data. Here’s what you need to know about the GDPR and cookie consent.
What is a Cookie?
Cookies are “are small blocks of data created by a web server while a user is browsing a website and placed on the user’s computer or other device by the user’s web browser. Cookies are placed on the device used to access a website, and more than one cookie may be placed on a user’s device during a session.”
What is GDPR Cookie Consent?
The GDPR only mentions cookies once in Recital 30:
“Natural persons may be associated with online identifiers provided by their devices, applications, tools and protocols, such as internet protocol addresses, cookie identifiers or other identifiers such as radio frequency identification tags. This may leave traces which, in particular when combined with unique identifiers and other information received by the servers, may be used to create profiles of the natural persons and identify them.”
In other words, if your cookies help you identify specific users, you need to comply with the GDPR.
GDPR Cookie Consent Requirements
The GDPR has seven basic principles for collecting and storing data. They are:
- Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
- Purpose limitation
- Data minimization
- Storage limitation
- Integrity and confidentiality (security)
Each of these principles must be considered when a company is creating their own GDPR privacy policies.
To comply with GDPR cookie consent and privacy laws, companies should:
- Require user consent before cookies, except those which are strictly necessary
- Provide accurate and specific information about any data each cookie tracks, and why, in plain language—before consent is given
- Document and store consent
- Make it possible and easy to withdraw consent
GDPR Cookie Consent Examples
When it comes to creating cookie consent forms, the consent should be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. That means you’ll need to display a banner or pop-up somewhere on your website, which allows the user to accept, decline or customize the tracking cookies you use.
Here are some excellent examples of cookie consent banners. Note how each one meets the standards above: they allow the user to set their preferences, whether that’s for some cookies, all, or none. The users are allowed to determine how their data will be used, and they can still access the website.
Do I Have to Comply?
Because the GDPR is so broad, some of the provisions are vague—including when it comes to tracking cookies. There are two exceptions to the rule: first, if your data collection is limited to “purely personal or household activity,” you don’t need to worry about complying. The second is if your organization has less than 250 members. You’re still governed by the GDPR, but you’re not subject to the same record-keeping requirements that larger organizations may be.
Stay in Compliance with SixFifty Solutions
SixFifty is your answer to GDPR privacy questions. We make it easy to generate comprehensive privacy policies for the GDPR. Rest assured you’re always in compliance when you allow our proprietary legal technology to do the hard work on your behalf.
If you’re ready to get started or have further questions, schedule a demo with SixFifty today.
Written by Meili Bell
Meili Bell is the Content Manager at SixFifty. She spends her workdays writing, editing, project managing and reading about the intersection of law and technology. Meili comes to SixFifty from Gifted Music School, a nonprofit music school for the most dedicated young musicians in the region, where she was program director of the school’s flagship program for the last ten...
Full Bio and other articles by Meili Bell