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How much do you know about cookies?

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What is a cookie?

We’re not talking about the chocolate chip variety! A cookie is a small text file that is downloaded onto ‘terminal equipment’ such as a computer, when the user opens a website. This allows the website to identify that user’s device and store information about the user’s preferences or past actions.

Most websites use cookies to recognise a user's device and then it will store the information about their previous visits to:

  • Allow the website to run more effectively.
  • Track users' preferences.
  • Personalise the content.
  • Adapt advertising more effectively, based on previous search history and web browsing behaviour, for use in advertising. For example, if you were looking for the most popular cookie flavour, cookies may help by looking at web browsing behaviour.

What must you do in order to comply with the GDPR?

The basic rules are that you must: 

  • Tell users the cookies are there.
  • Explain what the cookies are doing and why.
  • Get the user’s consent to store a cookie on their device.

You should do this the first time you set cookies so that you do not have to repeat it every time the same user visits your website. However, bear in mind that devices can be used by different people. If there is likely to be more than one user, you may want to consider repeating this process at suitable intervals. 

Make sure you don’t let the cookie crumble! If your method of using cookies changes over time, you may need to reobtain consent from your users.

How we can help you?

For a website that sells products or those that require a user to register first, the simplest way to secure consent for web cookies is to direct the user to a terms and conditions page, however, it should be noted that cookie and privacy information should be prominently displayed.

To comply with best practice, you should also set out a privacy policy on your site that explains what web cookies are and how your business uses them.

If you would like to discuss how BakerLaw can help you, please feel free to contact Simon Porter, Head of BakerLaw’s Corporate & Commercial Department, by emailing or calling 01252 730 754.

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.