With the General Data Protection Regulation of the EU websites around the world are taking a step towards better protection of their users' data. The steps being taken include informing the users of the website's data collection and processing methods in a clear manner, first and foremost.
The ePrivacy Directive which particularizes the GDPR and is legislation that covers online tracking technologies like Flash, HTML 5 Local Storage, Cookies, and other similar technologies. Since cookies are the most commonly used technology, it is known as the Cookie Law.
So, in order to comply with the law, you have to determine what are the tracking technologies that are being used by the website. Determining what cookies are being used by a website is really easy. Whether you are a website owner or a concerned user, you can easily find out what cookies are used by a website.
Checking for Cookies
In one method, you can go to the developer console of you the website and find out what cookies are being used. You can do this by following simple steps listed below.
- Open the website of which you want to check the cookies. Preferably in a private window so that cookies set on the browser from other websites do not interfere.
- Right click on the website and click on Inspect element to open up the developer console.
- The cookies on the website will be listed on a different tab and this changes from browser to browser. In Safari and Firefox, the cookies are listed on the Storage tab and in Chrome, the cookies can be seen listed on the Application tab.
- From this tab, open up the cookies list and click on the domain(s) to see which cookies are set under it.
You can read more about it in this article.
Now, this is an easy method where you don't even have to leave the browser window to check what cookies are used by the website. But this can be an exhaustive process when the website has many cookies installed under multiple domains. So, if you want to check the cookies of a website, all you need is the URL of the website to which you want the information about the cookies. And you don't have to look much far online to find a free service that can check the cookies for you.
One such free cookie checker tool is CookieServe. All you need to do is enter the name of the website that you want to check the cookies and click on search. This will lead CookieServe to perform a scan of the URL entered to check for the cookies. After a brief moment, it will display the results of the scan in a tabular form with all the cookies found and related details. From the results, you can see what cookies are set, under which domain, for how long etc.
You can also make use of the scan cookies features in CookieYes, but this requires you to create an account on CookieYes.
Why Even Check for Cookies?
The answer depends on whether you are a website owner or a user. If you are website owner you need to know which cookies your website is using in order to inform the users of the website of them, as part of protecting their privacy when they are browsing through their site. If you are a user of a website, you may want to check the cookies that the website uses to determine if there are any cookies set by the website that can keep track of your behavior on the browser.
There can be a lot of cookies that are being used by the website and these cookies can be installed by different domains. The website may share these cookies with third-parties which can be used for purposes like analytics and for targetted advertising. This has been a privacy concern over the years among the users and many countries are stepping up with laws that aim at protecting the privacy of their citizens.
The general public is becoming more and more aware of the privacy threats online, and news popping up about the personal data of user being mishandled. The realization that it can have real consequences when the data are gone into the wrong hands. So the organizations have to take measures so that the personal data of their users are protected. And the users have to be aware and careful of what data they are giving when online.