What are Tracking Cookies?
Cookies are small text files that are stored in a user’s device when they visit a website. It is used to analyze the website functioning, track the user activity, and for advertisements, among other things.
Just like any cookies, tracking cookies are also stored on your device by a website. They are either set by the website or third party in web browsers. However, they are mostly third-party cookies. These cookies then track the user activities on the page and share the information with the owner of the cookies. This information is then used for specialized advertising and direct marketing. For example, most pages have a social media button. When a user clicks on it, it lets them track the activities of the user.
Any website you visit checks your browser to see if it has placed cookies in any previous visit. If it has, it reads the information collected by the cookies and cater to you accordingly.
Tracking cookies monitor activities such as what you do on a website, what you are searching for, your shopping preferences, your device information, the links you have clicked on, where you are from, and the ads you have seen. Such cookies are more of a privacy concern than dangerous. They store all the information in the background. And they do it often without user consent, which is a violation.
You should be aware of what cookies are tracking you, or if you are a website owner, what tracking cookies are your website using. CookieServe is a free online cookie checker that will let you the details of the cookies that are being used by any website. Read more here.
How GDPR Affects Tracking Cookies?
GDPR interprets data collected by cookies as personal. As per the Regulation, users’ consent is required before you collect any personal information from them, and this consent must be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. Hence, using tracking cookies without requesting and obtaining consent is not legal and will result in fines and penalties.
With the application of GDPR and ePrivacy Directive (the EU Cookie Law), it has become important to get explicit consent, and it should be requested before using the cookies. Cookie banners should, therefore, clearly state the consent request and follow the GDPR requirements.
On 1 October 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a press release of its decision on consent for cookies that
- pre-ticked boxes are not valid consent;
- the users must be informed about the duration of the operation of cookies and if any third-party can access them.
How to Block Tracking Cookies?
Using your browser settings, you can block cookies from tracking you. Check this article to learn how. If you are given the option to opt-out of third-party cookies (it is your right!), you should do it!
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be legal advice. The sole purpose of this article is to share information with the readers.