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Cookie Banner 

What Is a Cookie Banner?

A cookie banner is a pop-up on websites that informs visitors about using cookies and, in some cases, asks for cookie permission.

In various parts of the world, showing a cookie banner to web visitors is a legal requirement. Privacy laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive in Europe, force websites to give users a choice about their cookie use. 

A cookie banner can serve as a tool for transparency and compliance. Ideally, it can also act as a bridge between user privacy rights and the website’s data collection needs, aiming to respect user choices and comply with legal requirements regarding data privacy and protection.

Third-party definition 

A cookie banner is sometimes required explicitly by data privacy regulations, and sometimes it merely fulfills more general requirements. Cookie banners pop up on a website upon a visitors’ first visit, informing the visitor about the website’s data collection practices and either asking for permission to drop cookies on the visitor’s browser or indicating that the website will drop cookies on the visitor’s browser. – Osano

What Is a Cookie?

A cookie is a piece of data sent from a site and stored on the user’s computer by their browser while the user is browsing.

Cookies are used to remember information such as user preferences or login status and to track browsing activity. 

There are two main types: 

  1. Session cookies. These are temporary cookies. They are deleted after the browser is closed. 
  2. Persistent cookies. These are cookies that remain until you delete them manually or they expire.

Cookies can be either first-party or third-party, and the distinction between the two is important. 

  • First-party cookies are set by the website you are visiting and are used for things like remembering preferences within that site.
  • Third-party cookies are set by domains other than the one you are visiting and are often used for advertising and analytics. 

While cookies enhance user experience, they have also raised privacy concerns, particularly regarding tracking and profiling users across different sites. 

What Does a Cookie Banner Look Like?

When you go to a website for the first time, a pop-up typically appears at the bottom of the page, telling you the site is using cookies. That’s a cookie banner. You’ve likely seen them countless times. 

A cookie banner typically involves:

  • Notification of cookie usage. Many jurisdictions require sites to inform users about their data collection practices. 
  • Consent requirement. In jurisdictions like the European Union, cookie banners are used not only for notification but also to obtain explicit consent from users before certain types of cookies can be placed on their devices.
  • Options for users. Most cookie banners give users options, like accepting all cookies, rejecting non-essential cookies, or sometimes customizing preferences in more detail. This allows users to control the extent to which they are tracked or their data is used.
  • Links to privacy policies. Typically, cookie banners include a link to the site’s privacy policy, where users can learn more about the types of cookies used, the site’s data collection practices, and how their data will be managed.

The implementation of cookie banners is primarily driven by legal compliance. The goal is to ensure that websites adhere to the privacy laws of the jurisdictions they operate in or serve.

Cookie Banners In the US vs. Europe 

In Europe, the GDPR and ePrivacy Directive mandate that websites obtain explicit and informed consent from users before putting non-essential cookies on their devices. This means users must actively opt in.

Non-essential cookies cannot be placed on the user’s device until they have given their consent, meaning websites must have a mechanism to block these cookies until consent is given.

European cookie banners typically provide more detailed information about the types of cookies used (like necessary, functional, analytics, and advertising cookies) and their purposes. Users are often given the choice to accept or reject different categories of cookies rather than a simple accept/reject all option.

In the US, neither federal nor state laws specifically mandate cookie banners in the same direct manner as the GDPR and ePrivacy Directive in the EU. However, state privacy laws do influence how businesses handle online privacy, which can include the use of cookies.

In the US, cookie banners serve more as a notice of cookie usage than a tool for obtaining explicit consent. They may simply inform American users that by continuing to use the site, they agree to the use of cookies.

Users might not always be provided with the same level of detailed control over different types of cookies as in Europe. Where consent options are provided, they’re more often opt-out rather than opt-in. Users may have to go into settings to reject cookies.

How to Stop Seeing Cookie Banners

If you’re tired of seeing cookie banners, use a browser that blocks cookies automatically. Alternatively, you can also use anti-tracking extensions. However, make sure to get these from reputable sources and check the permissions they require before you use them.