Definitive guide

A Beginners Guide On The Cookie Policy

Do I Need a Cookie Policy on My Website? The 2024 Ultimate Guide

Cookies are a regular part and parcel of browsing online. Netizens are often asked if they would accept it or not when accessing various websites in compliance with various laws on privacy. Just like other new business owners setting up their presence online, I once asked if I do need a cookie policy on my website. That and a hoard of other questions, which I now share with you as an ultimate guide on the need for a cookie policy. First off, let’s talk about cookies.

What are Cookies?

According to Ron Stefanski of OneHourProfessor.Com, a cookie is any data that is created, gathered, and stored as a text file whenever a website is loaded. The data is often gathered from a website’s visitors. The visitor’s browser retains this data for future visits or while accessing the rest of the website’s pages. Thus, cookies can be likened to a computer’s short-term memory.

Website owners gather this data for various reasons including marketing purposes. This could be used to identify what advertisements should be displayed while surfing based on the visitor’s information. Cookies help various websites determine a visitor’s purchasing or surfing behavior through artificial intelligence.

Are cookies personal data/information?

More often than not, cookies comprise the personal data or information of a visitor to a website. This includes geographical and demographical information such as age, gender, location, and bank details, among others.

Do email addresses classify as personal data?

Yes, email addresses are classified as personal data for it is contact information particular to an individual. This is much like the postal address or mobile number of a visitor to a website.

Do all cookies require consent?

Not all cookies require consent, as per CookieYes. The cookie expert organization explains that cookies necessary for the functionality and operation of a website, called “essential cookies” or “necessary cookies” are exempt from cookie consent. This type of cookie is used by the website to enable the proper functioning of features such as being able to log in to its members’ section.

How is consent for cookies set up?

To set up the cookies consent for your website, Iubenda recommends business owners ensure that it must be the first notice a visitor sees when accessing their website. It should be visible and legible on a banner, which provides the link to the cookie policy. What’s important to remember is that cookies consent must be given freely by the website user or visitor.

What are the different laws on privacy (CCPA, GDPR)?

With the nature and setup of cookies now clear, let’s go to the different laws that regulate their use. There are various laws set up by various countries, states, and organizations that protect the personal information of website visitors. In general, cookie laws require website owners to specify the type, purpose, and usage of the data they gather from users or visitors.

The two most common laws are the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented in the United Kingdom. Let me just give an overview of each of these two laws.

The California Privacy Law (CCPA)

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 is more commonly called the California Privacy Law. California Attorney General Ron Bonta explains that the law empowers consumers by giving them more control over businesses that collect their personal information. The landmark law highlights four important regulations on a consumer’s right to privacy online. That is the right to know, delete, opt-out, and non-discrimination when personal information is collected.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

On the other hand, the General Data Protection Regulation is broad protection for individuals in terms of their rights and control over personal information. It is a broad law since it is not only limited to cookies but all similar technologies across various platforms.

What is a Cookie Policy?

By now, you probably have an idea of what my answer was to β€œDo need a cookie policy on my website?” So let’s talk more about what a cookie policy is and its contents.

Simply put, a cookie policy is a document that informs website users or visitors that data is to be collected from them and stored on your server. The cookie policy details how the data will be used, processed and stored. It also elaborates on how website users or visitors will be tracked online. It provides users the capacity to determine and set their preferences for their cookies.

The Importance of a Cookie Policy

A cookie policy then is important because it serves as a protection to your company should a consumer complain about it after accepting it. On the side of the website users or visitors, it gives them a heads up on how, where, and to whom their personal information will be used.

Do all websites need a cookie policy?

Considering the existence of privacy laws, all websites do need to have a cookie policy in place. The exemption is given only to websites that do not collect the personal information of users or visitors.

Is it bad if you don’t have a cookie policy?

No, it isn’t if you do not collect personal information from your website’s users and visitors. But there may be consequences of not having one due to existing privacy laws that include sanctions for non-compliance. It may also make your company or organization vulnerable to lawsuits from website users and visitors if you do collect their personal information.

Is a privacy policy separate or different from a cookie policy?

Yes, a privacy policy is different from a cookie policy. The latter is a part of the privacy policy. However, if your website already has a privacy policy, there is no need to create a separate cookie policy.

Where is the cookie policy normally placed in a privacy policy?

The cookie policy can be placed anywhere in the privacy policy. It is necessary to set a distinct section within the privacy policy for ease of reference.

Is it necessary to place a cookie policy link on your banner?

Definitely! Placing a cookie policy or privacy policy link on your banner is necessary to provide website users or visitors the means to decide whether to accept it or not. It is also a means to provide accessibility to the details of your cookie or privacy policy.

The Essential Elements or Parts of a Cookie Policy

Termly identifies four essential parts or elements of a cookie policy. These are the types of cookies used on the website, the reason for using these cookies, to whom these cookies are provided, and the preferences users have for the cookies. Third-party cookies should be specified in the cookie policy along with the links to their cookie policies.

The Steps to Add a Cookie Policy to Your Website

The first thing you should remember when adding a cookie policy to your website is it must not be a replicate of someone else’s. Make your cookie policy based on your business. You may consult with a lawyer for this purpose or hire a company that has expertise in making it. Another option would be to make use of cookie policy generators.

What are cookie policy generators?

Several websites help businesses generate their cookie policies. Websites like Termsfeed, CookiePolicyGenerator, and Termly. Stefanski highly recommends Termly for small businesses when it comes to cookie policy generators. The website is described as an all-in-one compliance solution because it helps businesses stay updated with privacy laws. Termly helps small businesses save on legal fees because it is free.


Is a cookie safe?

By their nature, cookies are generally safe. Kaspersky underscores that cookies are not like viruses or malware that can harm your computer or gadgets. Cookies are unchanging and are simply stored by the website often for user navigation and functionality. However, cookies can also be used by hackers to track a person’s online behavior and use it for personal gain.

Where are cookies stored?

Cookies are often stored in two locations. One is in a website visitor’s computer or gadget. The other is in the website’s hosting or server. For Google Chrome users, cookies can be located in the cookie folder. This is specifically found at %LocalAppData%\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\cookies. For Microsoft Edge Chromium this is %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Edge\User Data\Default\cookies.


If you have more questions, feel free to send me a message any time!