Cookies: how they are regulated by the EU

Cookies are present on almost all the websites we visit and allow us to personalize the browsing experience, but they can also collect personal data from users. For this reason, the European Union has adopted specific regulations to protect the privacy of online users. In this article, we will explore what cookies are, how they work and how they are regulated in the EU. We will also dive into user consent, user rights, and penalties for violations.

Cookies: how they are regulated by the EU
Content index

What are cookies and how do they work?

> Cookies are small text files that websites send to the user's browser and which are stored on the user's device. They can be used for various purposes, such as saving user preferences, remembering the language of the site, tracking user navigation and collecting personal data. Cookies can be technical, session or persistent and can be generated by the site visited or by third parties.<

Session cookies and persistent cookies

Session cookies are used to identify the user during a single browsing session and to save login information. Persistent cookies, on the other hand, are used to memorize user preferences and to track user activity over multiple browsing sessions.

First-party cookies and third-party cookies

First-party cookies are created by the website the user is visiting, while third-party cookies are created by other websites and external services integrated into the website. Third-party cookies are mainly used for behavioral advertising and tracking user activity across multiple websites.

EU regulation on cookies: what the legislation says

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the e-Privacy Directive regulate the management of cookies and the protection of personal data privacy. The GDPR provides for the obligation to acquire the user's explicit consent for the use of cookies and for the management of personal data.

Obligations for the website owner and for the user

The website owner is obliged to provide the user with information on privacy and cookies and to request the user's explicit consent for the use of cookies. The user has the right to access, rectify and delete their personal data and to disable cookies through the browser settings.

Privacy policy and information on cookies

The privacy policy and information on cookies must be clear, transparent and easily accessible to the user. They must contain information on the type of personal data collected, the purposes of using the data, the duration of data retention and the third parties who can access the data.

Types of cookies: what they are and how they are used

There are different types of cookies, each of which has a specific purpose. Technical cookies are used to guarantee the correct functioning of the website and to save user preferences. Profiling cookies, on the other hand, are used to track user activity and to personalize advertising based on your interests.

Technical cookies

Technical cookies are necessary for the website to function correctly and to save user preferences. These cookies do not require your consent and are used to save your preferred language, site display mode and login information.

Profiling cookies

Profiling cookies are used to track user activity and to customize advertising based on your interests. These cookies require the user's explicit consent and are used to create browsing profiles and to send targeted advertising.

How to manage cookies on the website

First of all, it is good to analyze your own cookies to understand their uses and functions. From this analysis, the type of information, banner, consent that the site owner will have to use will derive. As we have seen, there are some types of cookies that are essential for the website (e.g. technical cookies) and consequently it is essential that these are present and functional, but other cookies, such as the profiling ones already mentioned above or the analytical ones, are used to the collection of data to create statistics and user profiles.

With respect to these types of cookies, it is important to obtain the user's consent for their activation, therefore it is essential to have a cookie banner, where the user can go and give his consent or not with respect to the collection of his data.

Obviously, browsers have features that allow the user to manage cookies, disabling them completely or partially, but the presence of a cookie banner accompanied by the related privacy policy is essential for a website owner.

In order to correctly comply with the legislation, it is possible to rely on ad hoc services such as for example Google Adsense which allows the free insertion of the cookie banner on the website or Cookiebot, which is a consent management platform that provides you with all the elements you need to comply with the GDPR.

Cookies: adapted to the rules

As we have seen, cookies are an important tool for the correct functioning of websites, but they must be managed correctly to protect user privacy. The EU has introduced a series of rules to regulate the use of cookies and ensure the protection of users' personal data.

It is important to know the legislation in order to correctly manage the cookies on your website.

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