Focus on Ecommerce: What is a cookie policy?

A cookie policy gives users of your website information about how you use cookies. It might also be called a cookie notice. A cookie policy might be produced as a combined document with your privacy policy, or it might be provided as two separate documents.

A cookie is a small text file that is downloaded onto a computer or device when a user accesses a website. Cookies help your website recognise a particular user and collect and store information about their preferences or past actions.

Contents Cookie policies

Why a cookie policy is important

If you’re using cookies or similar technologies (eg flash cookies, web beacons, device fingerprinting etc) on your website, you must comply with certain privacy law obligations . These include explaining to individuals what cookies you use and how you use them. It’s common to set out this information in a cookie policy that can be easily accessed through your website.

You are also required to get the consent of your website users before you set certain types of cookies. See our Q&A on Using cookies for further guidance about when you need to get consent for your cookies use.

If you don’t comply with your privacy law obligations, which include providing information about your use of cookies to individuals who are affected, your business or its directors could face fines of up to £500,000 from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Bear in mind that if your use of cookies also involves your business processing personal data, you must make sure that this is done in accordance with your data protection law obligations (see below). If you breach these requirements, you could face even more significant fines; the ICO can fine businesses up to £17.5 million, or 4% of their global annual turnover (whichever is higher) for breaches of […]

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