F.A.Q. – Does My Website Use Cookies?

This really is a frequently asked question and more importantly, a misunderstood topic.

F.A.Q. Party OneDoes My Website Use Cookies?

The answer – YES! Your website uses cookies because ALL websites use cookies!

From Wikipedia: ” An HTTP cookie (also called web cookieInternet cookiebrowser cookie, or simply cookie) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers.”

Repeat – the cookie is data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. The website visitor is in control of the actual cookies which are stored in their browser after they finish browsing, and they can delete them by cleaning their browser history.


F.A.Q. Part Two – I see these “accept cookies” disclaimers on websites recently, is there a law which requires me to add this information?

The General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] is a European law. Unless you are in Europe or sell products in Europe, you are not required by US Law to add this disclaimer to your website.

But if you want to add a disclaimer to your website, I recommend a simple banner with a link to your cookie and privacy policy and which either goes away after a few seconds, or when the visitor takes an action like scrolling or follows instructions to “click to continue”.

Before  you add this disclaimer and link to a policy statement, you need to make sure your website privacy policy actually discloses how you deliver cookies to your visitors.

Do you allow comments? When a visitor wants to post a comment, WordPress is set up so you can allow the visitor to choose which cookies to permit. If you REQUIRE them to register in order to comment, then you need to disclose how you keep the resulting private, customer information in your privacy policy. That is why I do not recommend comments be set up to require registering with WordPress in order to comment. Let folks comment on posts using just their Name and Email because they are opting in to sharing that information by checking the options box before they post. Use a strong SPAM filter to avoid fake comments.

Do you sell products from your website? Same thing; when a shopper wants to purchase a product most shopping carts allow you to set up the cart to make sure the customer themselves choose which cookies to allow.

If you REQUIRE them to register as a customer in order to shop, then you need to disclose how you keep the resulting private, customer information in your privacy policy.

That is why I do not recommend requiring this, but instead, to allow customers to shop as guests. Another alternative is to use a third party shopping cart which does not store any customer information on your website but on a separate site with their own cookie use and privacy policy.

It is very easy to add a simple disclaimer to your website using WordPress plugins made specifically for this purpose or which are part of an plugin like JetPack (the one I use). Then edit the generic, default policy provided as a model to reflect anything specific to your own website and you are all set! 

If the generic policy you choose with your Plugin does not cover all the ways you use cookies, and you present this to the public, you could be responsible for misrepresenting this information so review these issues before you post your policy!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*