What is the cookie law?

The cookie law is one put in place by the european government to protect the user. It lets the user know that the website uses cookies. A cookie is a text file that a website can save on your device that it can access later. It allows them to store information about that session that can be used in future sessions.

Third party cookies are not from the site owner but instead an external company acting on the website. There are great reasons for this, Google Analytics uses cookies to allow the site owner check the demographic and quantity of visitors. Another great example of this is an embedded YouTube video on a webpage, the cookies will still be able to track the views of the video and connect it with the account. So there are definitely benefits of using certain third party cookies. Something that is worthwhile noting at the same time is that third party advertisement companies use cookies to track the websites that the user visits and then target them with adverts specific to their needs. You can get around this by going into the settings within your browser and disabling the cookies.

Persistent cookies are created by the site owner and will remain on the users browser for a fixed period of time set by the website. A bad example of how this is being done is by Airline companies, they use cookies to charge their customers more for ticket prices. When searching for a flight, the cookie will remember the users details, journey details and price. This means if the user switches it off and goes back the site again later, the website will more than likely show the same flight at a more expensive cost.

While the intentions of the cookie law are to protect the user, most companies cover it under their ‘privacy policy’ which users can accept as something that will make their experience better if they don’t fully understand what cookies are, which most users don’t. The sites should tell the user exactly what the cookies do on their site, but instead are buried in privacy policies and are just another distraction from the content. A great example of this is how Google has done it on their homepage with a banner that states “A privacy reminder from Google”;

It doesn’t tell the user that cookies are present or what the purpose of cookies even are. Then they give the user two options, “I’ll read this later” to make it go away until next time, or a “Review now” which takes the user to this page;

Note how not once does it state that it uses it’s cookies to target more relevant adverts to you, but instead with carefully written statements, probably written in agreement with it’s lawyers, get around the law and continue to profit from unaware users.