Is My Website Compliant?
Now that you have completed your Cookie Audit, and established the range and type of cookies you use, we need to interpret the results and check compliance.
The most important question to ask yourself first is:
If you answered "No" to that question, then your website is definitely NOT compliant! If you answered "Yes", then that's a step in the right direction.
Do you tell visitors what cookies your website uses, and what their purpose is? Do you allow visitors to opt out of accepting cookies?
Unless the only cookies your website uses are in the 'Strictly Necessary' category*, and you answered "No" to either of the above, your site is NOT compliant.
* In accordance with the EU legislation as interpreted by the Information Commisioners' Office (ICO), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) have grouped cookies into four categories:
Strictly Necessary - these cookies are required for your website to serve its' purpose and will not function correctly without them. Examples include shopping carts, members only areas, and content management systems.
User consent is NOT required for acceptance of these cookies, but you 'should' still inform visitors of their existance/purpose.
Performance - these cookies collect 'anonymous' information about visitors to the website for the purpose of analysing traffic and advertising efficiency, etc. No personal information should be collected by these.
Functional - these cookies enhance a visitors' experience on your website, such as setting language preferences, location, and personalising content or layout.
Targeting - these cookies are normally used to track a visitors' browsing behaviour for the sake of targeted advertising, and are usually third party cookies. Although these may be third party cookies, you still have a responsibility (as the website owner) to inform your visitors of their use.
So what does all this mean?
To put it simply, it means that you have a (legal) duty to provide your website visitors with honest information about any cookies used on your website, and allow them the option of accepting or declining them, with the emphasis very much on "informed consent".
A lot of website owners, both large and small, have balked at this concept (and possibly rightly so) due to the thought of frightening visitors away. The fact is, it IS law, it IS legally enforcable, and visitors to your website WILL come to expect it!
In our opinion, the more that websites act on this, the sooner your visitors will not only come to accept and understand it, but they will also come to expect it, and will be wary of those websites that don't.
Compliance doesn't have to mean annoying and ugly pop-ups or alarming warnings all over the place, it just means giving your visitors the choice. See our How do I get compliant? page to find out how you can put this all into place.