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Cookie Policy: A Minefield in a Cookie Jar

The digital landscape is subject to more regulation nowadays than ever – and its importance is only set to grow.

That’s why understanding the role of under-the-radar elements on websites is paramount for both operators and users. Cookies (small pieces of data stored on users’ devices) are one of the main pillars of regulations.

Cookies play a crucial role in enhancing user experiences. However, with great power comes great responsibility – specifically the responsibility for websites to disclose how user data is utilised. This disclosure is not just a courtesy; it is a legal requirement to comply with regulations like the GDPR, CCPA, and other international data privacy laws.

By providing transparency about data usage, websites build trust with users and ensure adherence to stringent privacy standards. It remains a question whether users really read what goes into cookie policies and other terms on websites, but this article will equip your charity with all the information about cookies moving forward.

Setting Up a Cookie Consent Program for Charities

 

Cookie consent is when a website asks if it’s okay to save or get information on user devices, like your computer or phone. This info is usually used to make user experience on the website more personal, like showing you content or ads that match your interests.

Most websites use cookies, and previously, your web browser was probably used to accepting them automatically. Nowadays, websites have to ask for your permission before they save or get any info on your device. And, if they want to use new cookies or change how they use the ones they have, they need your permission for that too.

Getting cookie consent can happen in different ways:

  • Your web browser might ask if you want to allow or deny cookies the first time you visit a website. This can vary as first party or third party cookies.
  • Some websites show a message telling you they use cookies and give a link to learn more, like in their privacy policy.
  • Other websites might send you to a different page where you can choose which cookies you’re okay with – which is our favourite method!

Discovering the right strategies is necessary to not only meet legal requirements but to foster transparency and trust with users as a charity. A well-executed cookie consent program not only ensures compliance, it enhances the overall user experience.

So cookie consent goes beyond the conventional banner seen on many websites. It involves a nuanced understanding of the comprehensive elements essential for obtaining and managing user consent for tracking.

A pivotal aspect of this process is the implementation of a robust cookie policy. This policy is more than a legal necessity; it is a tool to demonstrate a website’s commitment to ethical data processing and user privacy. Understanding these layers is vital for legal compliance and the establishment of user trust.

Make it Easy to Accept AND Reject

 

We all know how annoying it is when you have to expand the cookie choices and trick your mind into not clicking the obvious button that’s coloured differently – it’s a trap!

Also, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has previously issued guidance that organisations must make it as easy for users to “reject all” advertising cookies as it is to “accept all”.

The next step is to disclose as much information about the various cookie types and have the users confirm their choices easily – or reject.

Why Do Websites Collect Personal Data?

Delving into the reasons behind websites collecting personal data unveils distinct categories of cookies.

From strictly necessary cookies that ensure basic functionality to functional cookies enhancing user experience, performance cookies optimising site performance, and targeting cookies delivering personalised content, each category serves a unique purpose. 

Users benefit from these collections as they enable an efficient, tailored online experience, showcasing the symbiotic relationship between data collection and user satisfaction.

Creating a Cookie Multiplier: Estimating Your Needs

 

The concept of a cookie multiplier introduces a strategic approach to optimise cookie usage while ensuring compliance with regulations. Understanding how to calculate the multiplier needed for a website involves a nuanced exploration of usage patterns, user preferences, and regulatory requirements.

Insights gained from this process allow website operators to strike a balance between personalised experiences and privacy compliance, enhancing the overall efficiency of cookie usage.

Our recommendation here would be to collect only the data you are planning to utilise. Your charity digital marketing agency or agency team would be able to provide insights into the most effective cookie policies.

GDPR Compliance: Updating Your Cookie List

 

GDPR and cookie policies in the UK are pretty straightforward. Be transparent about the motivations behind using cookies and keep the data secure, then you should be fine. Ensuring compliance involves not only the technical aspect of maintaining an accurate list; it requires you to communicate those changes to users.

From working with session cookies to persistent cookies, all websites should implement a consent mechanism that allows users to learn and control the setting of all cookies that are not strictly necessary.

The Consequences of Neglect: Why You Need a Cookie Consent Policy

 

Without beating around the bush, this is not a risk a charity would want to take. Also, there are quite favourable reasons to comply anyways.

We all know that the website users, especially younger users, are quite educated about these regulations and considerate of their personal data. That’s why neglecting the implementation of a cookie consent policy, beyond legal repercussions can lead to eroding user trust and compromising the overall reputation of the website.

Understanding the importance of transparency in data processing is not just a matter of compliance; it is a fundamental aspect of maintaining a positive online presence and ensuring the loyalty of users.

The Future of Cookie Laws: Anticipating Changes

 

Those little games some website owners are playing are not appreciated by educated users, and it’s been more on the focus of legal bodies as well. That’s why exploring the evolving landscape of cookie laws is crucial for website owners who aim to stay ahead of the curve. 

Anticipating future changes provides insights into potential shifts in regulations and their profound impact on online practices. By staying informed, and keeping their users informed, website operators can proactively adjust their strategies to align with upcoming legal developments, ensuring ongoing compliance and sustainable online operations.

Standards for Charities: Navigating Cookie Policies

 

For charities operating in the UK and internationally, navigating cookie policies requires a nuanced approach.

It looks like the UK and EU is in a better position than the US, but understanding the specific standards that apply to charitable organisations ensures compliance while tailoring approaches to meet unique requirements in the global front. 

By aligning cookie policies with the principles of charitable work, these organisations can maintain transparency, build trust with their audience, and fulfil their missions effectively.

The Charity Digital Benchmark (that’s us!) allows charities to compare their data against industry averages, identify trends, and learn from the rest. When your charity signs up to the Benchmark, we will perform a free and comprehensive data audit – which includes a review of your cookie policy and implementation. Your org can only benefit from being part of the fast-growing Benchmark community – so why not reach out now?

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