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Cookie Compliance: Painlessly Balance Personalization and Privacy

Annie Greenley-Giudici

Understanding Cookie Compliance

Cookies are a major part of most websites. But you need to understand the different types of cookies and how to use them in different situations to ensure your business balances personalization and privacy.

What are cookies?

Internet cookies are small data files that store information in consumers’ web browsers. There are many types of cookies, including first-party cookies, third-party cookies, permanent cookies, and session cookies.

First-party and third-party cookies

First-party cookies are stored by the website domain consumers visit and only work on that domain. First-party cookies make the consumer experience smoother by remembering information such as login details, cart information, and site preferences.

Third-party cookies come via external domains. They follow consumers across different websites, allowing each site to access the cookie information to retarget users.

Permanent cookies and session cookies

Permanent or persistent cookies stay on your browser history over multiple browser sessions. On the other hand, session cookies expire as soon as a browsing session ends.

How do cookies impact the consumer experience?

From a consumer perspective, cookies can make a website visit smoother and faster. This equates to a more personalized browsing experience.

How do cookies help my business?

From a business perspective, cookies can help grow customer loyalty by improving the experience on site.

This might be via recognizing users; recalling their logins and preferences; personalizing and targeting advertising based on browsing history; and boosting sales by tracking previously viewed items, shopping preferences, engagement, and behavior on site.

However, this technology also introduces privacy compliance risks for both your own cookie use and the dozens of third-party trackers that may be present on your website.

“Though consumers demand a more personalized digital experience, privacy remains a top concern.”

Are there laws and regulations that govern the use of cookies?

Yes, there are multiple laws around the world, depending on where you are and who your website consumers are. A company’s ability to demonstrate compliance has never been more scrutinized or enforced than it is today.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

When the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in May 2018, it required businesses to rethink how they managed consumers’ personal data and to implement a solution that allows them to meet the regulatory requirements.

The EU has also implemented the Cookie Law (aka ePrivacy Directive). It gives consumers the option to consent or refuse to allow companies to collect, store and use their personal information. Together, the Cookie Law and the GDPR form the world’s strictest data privacy regime.

With the EU setting the gold standard for stringent consumer consent and data protection, other jurisdictions globally have implemented or are considering similar consent practices.

Where else are there data protection regulations?

Outside of the EU, data protection laws include:

Data protection regulations in the U.S.

While there is no equivalent to the GDPR or Cookie Law across the whole country, some U.S. states regulate cookie use as it relates to state residents. Some examples are the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA).

Data protection regulations in China

China has passed the China Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which requires companies doing business in China to be able to show compliance with certain rules.

It impacts the handling of personal information within China’s borders, as well as any handling of personal data outside China if it’s related to selling goods or services to people within China.

What is cookie compliance?

Cookie compliance is the website visitor’s permission to place a cookie into their browser to gather specific data about them. Cookie compliance, or cookie consent, is required to lawfully obtain most of the different types of data businesses and third parties collect via cookies.

Global cookie consent compliance is complex. There are numerous variations in international law that impact what you need to do to obtain cookie compliance in any particular country or region. Factors that may change include:

  • How organizations should process personal data collected via cookies
  • What is considered valid consent
  • How to provide notice and choice to consumers.

These issues and more leave business challenged with implementing multiple consent approaches.

How do I meet global cookie consent requirements?

It is important for organizations of all sizes to have a flexible and scalable solution to demonstrate cookie compliance in any market.

Not only is it vital for organizations to meet compliance requirements, it’s equally important to provide consumers with a seamless and branded consent experience.

Delivering a compliant, branded consent experience enables companies to build trust with consumers. It shows they’re able to provide consumers with transparency and control over their data, and that they respect consumer privacy rights.

Consumer trust is the foundation of a good digital experience, and businesses will need to work hard to build and maintain that trust. As organizations start to incorporate privacy into their business strategy, they will see consumer trust and engagement start to grow.

What does the future of cookie compliance look like?

Google intends to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome in 2024. Since 65% of browser users use Chrome, this will impact most businesses, and cookie marketing.

However, if you have TrustArc Cookie Consent Manager, you are in good hands. The TrustArc Cookie Consent Manager does not require third-party cookies to work and will remain compliant.

TrustArc will also continue to work with industry partners to ensure Cookie Consent Manager adapts to ongoing changes to the digital landscape.

Read more about how changes in cookie marketing might impact your business, and how to prepare.

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