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The General Data Protection Regulation, better known as GDPR, changed everything.

While that may seem like an overwhelming statement at first, the way data privacy has evolved and transformed in the years since GDPR came into effect only serves to cement its effect further.

It has achieved the principal goal it's enactors wanted to achieve in many ways, emphasizing the importance of protecting any personal user data collected and ensuring only the most essential data is collected. Users under the jurisdiction of the GDPR have an unprecedented level of data protection.

One key area the GDPR transformed almost entirely is cookies. Cookies are essential tools for collecting users' personal data (location, language, device, pages visited, session durations, conversions, etc.) However, while businesses use this data to personalize their users’ experience, all of these tracking activities bring up the question about the ethics of such tools.

With GDPR being the primary inspiration behind several major data protection laws globally, cookies have become a hot topic for users' informed consent. This is where cookie consent comes in.

As the name suggests, cookie consent is how a business ensures that any information or data it collects on its users is only done after they've consented to it. When a user heads over to a website and sees a banner pop-up explaining why they need their permission to store cookies and the different kinds of cookies that'll be stored, it's all got to do with cookie consent.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are what makes the customer experience truly personalized. They are small files that are stored on a user's device. These files' primary purpose is to track users' activities throughout the website. This enables a website to target users with better ads and suggestions on what they may want to see based on their search patterns.

Sounds like a win-win, right? Well, not quite. Cookies and the ethics behind their use are a lot more complicated than that. These cookies collect personal information about the user, such as their location or what OS they're using. Moreover, most organizations are not completely honest about how they use cookies. Some websites share or sell information elicited from these cookies.

What Is Cookie Consent?

The GDPR's cookie consent mandate was a way to deal with cookies being used only for the purpose(s) users consent to, in case of non-essential use. Think of cookie consent as a “buyer beware” disclaimer that only shows up when the user visits the site and the website needs their consent to store cookies on their device. Its purpose is simple; to gain user consent to having their data collected via cookies.

For example, according to the GDPR, a cookie consent banner must have all the relevant information about:

  1. Why the website needs to store cookies,
  2. The cookies it plans to use,
  3. How the user can decline to consent to these cookies.

How Does Cookie Consent Work?

Cookie consent gives users control over their data and how it is collected. As mentioned above, under the GDPR and several other data protection laws, a website cannot continue collecting a users’ data by default. They must obtain consent before storing any non-essential cookies on the users’ devices.

Once presented with the cookie consent banner, a user must have the ability to see the details of all the cookies that a website uses for marketing, tracking, and advertising purposes. There are several other categories of cookies too. The user must also have the ability to opt-out at any time, and the business must honor that consent.

Additionally, one of the data subject rights guaranteed under the GDPR ensures that every user can withdraw their consent to these cookies at any time.

Cookie Consent Requirements Under GDPR & CCPA

As mentioned earlier, the GDPR's regulations compel organizations that cater to EU residents to change their cookie consent practices. Most data protection laws have followed the GDPR's blueprint related to cookies. However, other data protection laws had a different take on the subject.

The most noteworthy difference is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It allows a website to pre-check the consent box on its cookie consent banner by default. Users have to uncheck the box to opt-out of cookie tracking. However, users can opt-out of cookie consent at any time after initially opting in.

Learn more about opt-out vs. opt-in regimes in this blog.

How Securiti Can Help

While the GDPR and CCPA may differ in their minute details, the overall writing is on the wall for most organizations and websites. With data protection laws worldwide becoming increasingly strict about websites, properly informing and eliciting consent from users about cookies and the exact data they collect has to become an essential part of their digital strategy.

Securiti is a market leader in developing cookie consent management solutions. It is designed to ensure that all data protection regulation requirements worldwide, such as GDPR and CCPA, are met. Hence, you can ensure that your website's cookie collection and cookie consent practices fully comply with all major data protection laws anywhere in the world.

Get a Free Trial and see the Securiti platform in action now. You can also request a free demo today and start your compliance journey now.

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