June 15, 2018

What should your cookie policy say?

After the GDPR regulations came into force on 25th May this year, there is a lot of concern among website owners about using cookies on websites and among users whether to accept cookies or not.
In the present post, we have collected useful information from highly authoritative sites so that you, the blogger, can yourself take informed action on use of cookies and displaying your cookie policy on your blog. 

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a small piece of information that websites leave on the visitor's browser. It helps the website in many ways such as assessing the user behavior so as to give the user a better 'user experience' later on or tracking how he/ she has responded to an advertisement placed on the website.

Typically, cookies are small text files with a small piece of information in characters and digits. They are not malware and do not contain viruses or malicious code.  

A cookie can be session specific or permanent. The permanent cookie resides on the hard disk of the user's computer. On the other hand, the session specific cookie just collects the session data and is deleted at the end of the session. For example, e-commerce websites collect data about login by the user, so that he/ she does not have to enter the data again when he visits other pages of the same website or performs different transactions. This cookie is deleted after the session or a small period of inactivity. Then there are 'third-party cookies' that are not created by the website itself but by other programs or links used in that website. Mostly it includes advertisments.


What Automattic, the company behind Wordpress, has to say about cookies?

Wordpess has posted a very informative article on its cookie policy page. You could visit the given link in case you are interested in details about how cookies function and what type of cookies a Wordpress blog/ website posts on user's browser. 

If you are a business, you can adapt the Wordpress policy for your purpose, editing it the way you like.  Wordpress page on Cookie Policy

On wordpress.com blogs, the cookie policy statement automatically comes at the bottom of the webpage. On free blogs, you cannot modify the notice but on paid ones you can. In addition, on premium accounts, you can also place cookie and privacy policies through plugins.

Cookie notice at the bottom of Wordpress blogs

 

How does Blogger show up the cookie policy notice on free blogs?

Blogger does not have a standard cookie notice. However, for EU-centric blogs or those opened in the EU zone, it shows a cookie notice as claimed by the platform. 

Cookies by Google AdSense

When you serve advertisements on your blog through Google AdSense or other CPC/ affiliate marketing services, the user data becomes very important for choosing ads and tracking user actions. Therefore these programs use cookies extensively. If you are interested in seeing details of how Google uses cookies and collects other data for serving advertisements, visit this link: Google Privacy and Terms.


Cookie information on self-hosted and custom-domain blogs 

Blogs created on Wordpress or Joomla or other CMS or custom domain mapped Blogger blogs are usually monetized through advertisements and other ways. In all these cases, there is even a bigger need to have a clear cookie policy displayed on the blog. This can be done through a plugin or by simply taking these actions:
a. Having a notice about cookie (and privacy) policy of the blog. This can be put as an item on the  side bar/ bottom of the blog or a pop-up.
b. Having a page giving details about the actual policies. If your blog does not have advertisments or has those from only compliant networks, or it does not have widgets/ plugins that capture user data, you can keep the page simple.  Otherwise you need to explain things in greated detail, as given in the Wordpress document linked above.

You may like to visit this related post on GDPR regulations issued by the EU last month. The cookie policy page of the Guardian is very elaborate and it can be emulated by professional bloggers, with necessary modifications.


GDPR-compliance


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