Cookies: What are they and how do they affect my business?

Many websites like you to accept their cookies in order to receive data, not just for staying in line with laws and legislations, but to also streamline your user experience. In this article, we explain what cookies are, and how they can impact your business.

Written by

Eden Parker

September 2021

What are cookies?

Cookies, in their simplest terms, are used on websites to collect data from the users. This data is used to give you a personal ID to use online for marketing purposes to make your experience more personalised. Cookies track data such as your shopping cart and your login details so they can be remembered and used next time you access the website. When you accept the use of cookies, they are downloaded onto your device to be used when you next use the website.

What are cookies used for?

Websites use cookies to streamline the user experience. If you accidentally close the tab, or leave items in your shopping cart, then cookies will store that data for the next time you use that website. In addition to this, the cookies can track which websites you go on to improve advertisements and marketing to make them more personal to your interests.

Are cookies dangerous?

Cookies themselves are not dangerous as they cannot change or affect the device; they are only used to provide data to the recipient. However, hackers may target cookies to be able to track different users’ browser histories.

There are two types of cookies that you can accept: first- and third-party cookies. First party cookies are only used by the website owners, meaning they are not shared with any other company. Third-party cookies are used by the website owners, and other parties that may need the data. The specifics of what data will be collected and how it will be shared is outlined in the website’s privacy policy, which can be reviewed before accepting the cookies.

How to remove cookies from your device

Removing cookies can help reduce your chances of a security breach. Depending on the web browser you are using, it may vary slightly how to remove the cookies:
Go into your settings. These can also be called “advanced”, “options” or “tools”.
Using the options given, locate the cookies section and clear your cookies.
Please keep in mind that if you remove your cookies, you will likely have to input your data again into the websites you visit. If you are concerned about cookies, you can use virtual private networks (VPN) so the cookies cannot track your location. You can also use incognito mode on your browser and stop cookies tracking you.

How do cookies affect my business?

On 25th May 2011, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2011) were introduced to comply with rules set by the EU in 2009 regarding cookies and storing data. The exact rules can be found below:

“6. – (1) Subject to paragraph (4), a person shall not store or gain information, or to gain access to information stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user unless the requirements of paragraph (2) are met. (2) The requirements are that the subscriber or user of that terminal equipment- (a) is provided with clear and comprehensive information about the purposes of the storage of, or access to, that information; and (b) has given his or her consent. (3) Where an electronic communications network is used by the same person to store or access information in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user on more than one occasion, it is sufficient for the purposes of this regulation that the requirements of paragraph (2) are met in respect of the initial use. (3A) For the purposes of paragraph (2), consent may be signified by a subscriber who amends or sets controls on the internet browser which the subscriber uses or by using another application or programme to signify consent. (4) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the technical storage of, or access to, information – (a) for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network; or (b) where such storage or access is strictly necessary for the provision of an information society service requested by the subscriber or user.”

To summarise, this law means that the user has to give their consent for cookies to be used on a website, and they must be able to see exactly what will be stored and how it will be used. This means that you must use a cookie bot to ensure that you are complying with the law, and have a section in your privacy policy to explain how cookies are used on your website.

We add cookie bots to our websites to ensure that they comply with laws and legislations. The cookie bots are built into our sites, and included in our website care plans. This reduces the stress of GDPR breaches on your side, meaning you can focus on generating business and providing an excellent service.

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