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  • The Legality of Tracking Cookies On Websites

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    It is now quite commonplace to see pop-up boxes while browsing the internet. Many of them are asking for permission to use cookies to track your browsing activity while on the site. The reason these boxes are becoming more and more commonplace is that laws have been passed that require sites to disclose that they are using cookies.

     

    Most websites used to include user consent in vague privacy policies, but that is now illegal because most users accepted the request without prior knowledge. Most people do not like reading privacy policies, and so they consent without any knowledge. The new rules addressed the limitation by ensuring websites ask for permission.

     

    What is a cookie?

    It is essential to understand what a cookie is to comprehend its legalities. A cookie is instrumental in storing data from the site to your browser. The stored data includes search history, Wifi access points, and logins found on your computer. When you permit the little cookie pop boxes, you are consenting to the storage of said data.

     

    Your computer downloads the cookie immediately after you accept the request. The cookie is then enabled to save data on your device. Your computer server interacts with the user’s website in facilitating data transfer. Now, it’s important to note that cookies are not inherently bad. In fact, they are usually very helpful to you and to the website. The info from the cookies are sourced into an efficient data catalog which is used by the webmaster to determine how to best update the site in order to give users the best experience possible. The cookies also save info for you so that you don’t lose anything important when you log off, like a shopping cart for example.

     

    What are the Cookie Laws?

    There are various types of technologies available in the market apart from cookies. Examples include the HTML5 local storage and Flash. Cookies are, however, the most commonly used in the market. Almost all websites make use of cookies in their operations.

     

    Law enforcement bodies have formulated regulations to protect the privacy of the population and websites have a responsibility to follow the rules. Cookie laws help to protect the online privacy of the users. The rules help in increasing awareness among the people. The realization regards how websites collect information and use it. You get to have a say on whether to grant permission to sites or not.

     

    Businesses need to make changes and adjustments to incorporate the new regulations. Failure to follow the rules has severe consequences for the lawbreakers. Not only can one get fines but also severe consequences. Extreme punishments include civil and criminal penalties imposed by the Federal Trade Commission. One can also exercise private remedies for civil action.

     

    Give notice to Visitors

    It is a rule for all websites to provide notice to all the visitors visiting them. The notice should notify the people that the site uses cookies. The company should outline in detail what information they intend to save from the user. Companies should provide information about how the websites get and use the data.

     

    Ask for consent

    The regulatory body in the US empowered the public by giving them a choice. The websites have to provide the visitors with an option to either allow or reject the offer. Besides asking for consent, there ought to be clear guidelines on how to opt out of the agreement. The people are then not entirely bound by cookies forever. They have an option to opt out whenever they feel like it.

     

    Access

    In case someone wants to review the collected information, they have a right to do so. The company ought to provide all the information to the users to see. The regulation is vital in increasing participation and creating trust.

     

    Security

    Websites using cookies have access to sensitive information on their visitors. It is thus essential to make sure that they protect the content. Integrity is an attribute that the website needs to uphold. They should put in place reasonable security measures to safeguard the people information. The site should not also use the information for malicious purposes.

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