Updated April 2, 2020.
Cookie consent is one of the cornerstones of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. It’s the way websites ensure a legal processing of personal data from their users.
But how exactly does it work and how can you make your website compliant with the GDPR’s cookie consent requirements?
In this article, we explain what cookie consent means, how you obtain them lawfully and how you can use Cookiebot’s GDPR cookie consent plugin on your website.
Cookies on websites track users in different ways. Typically, the IP address of users will be collected, stored and shared, or sometimes merely the actions and behavior of users across websites.
Personal data is defined broadly in the EU’s GDPR as any information that relates to an individual either directly, indirectly or by reference to an identifier, such as an IP address.
GDPR sets out legal bases for the collection and processing of personal data. The very first one is consent.
That is why – if your website has any cookies other than those strictly necessary for its basic function – you must obtain the cookie consent of your users prior to any collection or processing.
Once Cookiebot is up and running on your website, it automatically scans the depths of your domain to find all cookies and trackers present.
Then Cookiebot automatically blocks them cookies until your users have given their consent to their activation and collection of their personal data.
Cookiebot’s cookie consent solution is available for free if your domain has less than 100 subpages (unique URL’s).
Cookiebot also comes as a simple WordPress plugin for your website.
Once you have signed up with Cookiebot, simply install our GDPR cookie consent plugin on your WordPress site to ensure full compliance with the European data protection regulation.
Cookiebot also supports compliance with California’s CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act).
In the EU, cookie consent banners became a virtual reality in the wake of the ePrivacy Directive that was implemented in 2002 and quickly came to known as “the cookie law” for that same reason.
Since the enforcement of the GDPR on 25 May 2018, however, simple “accept cookies” banners no longer do.
And since the ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on October 1, 2019, no cookie consent banners in the EU are allowed to have pre-ticked checkboxes (with the exception of necessary cookies), as this does not constitute valid consent.
Users have to affirmatively tick the boxes of all other cookies on a website before clicking OK.
A GDPR/ePR compliant consent banner from Cookiebot
This means that the old cookie consent popups that featured only an OK-button without details of cookie types, durations, purposes, and which third parties personal data is shared with, have effectively been made illegal in the EU.
An illegal cookie consent popup for pure proforma.
GDPR and the CJEU ruling on valid consent in the European Union has cemented the legal fact that websites must obtain the specific, explicit and actively-given consent from user before any activation of cookies and collection or processing of personal data can take place.
Cookiebot’s GDPR cookie consent solution that enables full compliance by offering users a real choice of informed, explicit consent.
With Cookiebot, users are informed of the purposes of the cookies up front, and must affirmatively opt in to all categories as part of their prior consent, before those cookies can be activated.
The cookies (which, as mentioned, can be numerous) are arranged in four comprehensible categories. Only strictly necessary cookies are allowed to be pre-ticked on a consent banner in the EU.
Users can also click to see a detailed overview of the cookies in use.
The overview simply folds out of the consent banner, mapping all active cookies and presenting them in an accessible manner.
At a glance, the user can now scroll through all of the cookies, see where they come from, read a description of their function and check their duration.
The user can then easily accept or reject the different types of cookies.
The main purpose of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is to bring EU data protection legislation up to date with the digital age, protecting personal privacy and restoring the control over their own data to the users.
The latest law on protection of personal data dates from back in 1995.
1995. That’s almost ten years prior to Facebook!
And long before cookies were used for anything and everything from customizing websites to fencing in customers in a sophisticated web of targeted marketing.
The GDPR sets out strict requirements on data handling procedures, transparency, documentation and user consent.
For a quick overview of the main themes of the GDPR, check out the EU Commission’s infographic on the subject, Data Protection: Better rules for small businesses.
Your GDPR and ePrivacy compliant cookie consent system should ensure that the consent is…
For website owners, the two primary aspects to be aware of are:
What personal data are you handling? Do you really need this data, or can you get by without it? Are you able to detect and properly delete personal data, if a user so requests? Is the data securely stored? Do you have proper procedures in place in case of a data breach?
This goes for both first-party and third-party cookies in use on your website. All cookies that directly identifies a person or can potentially be combined to identify a person may only be used once you have your user’s proper consent to it.
Nowadays, there can be up to hundreds of cookies and tracking technologies in use on websites, and more often than not, website owners don’t even themselves have the full picture of the tracking in use on their own website.
To meet the requirements, make sure to have a thorough and compliant setup for getting and securely storing the consents to the cookies on your website. Start by finding out what cookies are in action on your website, and whether the use is compliant.
All cookies that process personal data are subject to the new regulations.
In practice, this means most cookies, such as cookies for analytics, cookies for advertising and for functional services, for example survey and chat tools.
The GDPR covers both data that is directly personal, such as a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, IP address etc., and data that can be combined in a way that can single out and identify individual users.
If your website or organization processes such data, then it must be revised to meet the new requirements.
It is worth knowing that consent is one of six lawful reasons to process personal data.
Therefore, before applying a setup for user consents, consider whether the processed personal data falls under one of the other categories for lawfulness.
All of the services and features mentioned above are examples of third-parties on your website.
They deposit cookies on your user’s browsers as they visit your website.
You are responsible for protecting your website users and for giving them clear information and choice about how their data is being used, both by you and by third parties in use on your website.