Head ups! Google wants you to comply with their cookie consent policy by 30th September 2015. There isn’t any mention of a direct penalty from Google if you don’t comply, but if you’re using a Google product such as Adsense and don’t comply, you’ll be violating Google terms of service and may even find yourself in a spot of bother with the European data protection authorities.
Cookie consent is the way you notify your readers that you collect, share or use their data via cookies. In most cases you need your reader to consent to use of a cookie, usually via a notification bar or pop-up overlay. If you use Google products on your blog such as Adsense, it’s now compulsory you do this.
What is a cookie?
Don’t worry, it’s common practice and they only contain useful info such as pages visited or items in a shopping cart. It’s good to know they can’t carry viruses or malware, so really cannot harm a readers site.
Regardless of the mass debates and compliance vs. usability arguments, Google recently announced a new policy regarding web cookies that affects any blog or website that has readers or users visiting from the European Union.
Do I need consent from every reader?
Not in all cases. It depends on the readers country’s policy on cookies.
For example: In the UK (at time of writing), you must get the readers consent to use a cookie, but it’s acceptable for that consent to be implied. So, if your notification tells the reader that by continuing to use your site they are giving consent to cookie use, that’s ok.
To make sure you cover all policies, it’s a good idea to have the reader click a button to ‘opt-in’ to cookie use. If the reader isn’t happy with that, it’s helpful to provide a link to more info on cookies and how to turn them off in your web browser.
In my opinion, unless you are collecting sensitive personal information on your blog, then implied consent is enough to comply. It’s what I use on my own and client websites in the UK.
However, as there can be financial penalties enforced, I’m not a legal expert so if you are in any doubt about how best to comply, I would speak to a solicitor.
The EU’s legal requirements for cookies can be found here.
Why is there such a cookie kerfuffle?
There’s really no reason to be concerned if a website is using cookies. After all, it just means the website can deliver the reader a better user experience.
That being said, you are storing and accessing a small amount of data on your reader’s computer or device. So, it’s rightly now policy to let your readers know you’re doing this and that cookies are not being used to gather information unnecessarily.
So, how do you know if your blog is using cookies?
If you let readers make comment s on your posts, or you’re using products like Google AdSense, DoubleClick for Publishers, and DoubleClick Ad Exchange, you’ll be using cookies.
To make sure you comply with the EU user consent policy, you must:
- Explain what the cookies do and why,
- Get consent to store a cookie in their browser.
As long as you do this once for each reader, you don’t have to repeat it every time they visit your blog.
How to put cookie consent on your blog
There are many ways to include cookie consent on your blog or website.
WordPress Self Hosted Blogs:
WordPress users have got it covered with a number of specialist plugins that will do most of the hard work for you.
I’ve personally used on my WordPress sites:
UK Cookie Consent
Cookie Law Info
Allows you to easily customise your cookie consent banner from your WordPress dashboard. Uses the implied method with opt-in option. wordpress.org/plugins/cookie-law-info/
A lot of WordPress users like to use the Shareaholic plugin for displaying share buttons, but are unaware that the plugin also gives the option to display a cookie consent banner. Uses implied method with opt-in option. blog.shareaholic.com/cookie-consent-banner-app/
As I write this, WordPress.com don’t offer an integrated plugin to enable cookie consent on your blog. I’m sure this will change shortly as Google now enforce compliance by 30/09/15.
The best way to comply in the meantime is to add a text widget and let your readers know that way.
Otherwise, maybe now is a good time to migrate to a self-hosted blog ☺
Other Blogging Platforms
If you blog on other platforms, Google have put together a great resource to help you: www.cookiechoices.org
As the 30th September deadline approaches, I’ll do my best to keep this post up to date and add in the best ways to comply for each blogging platform now that Google has set a deadline for compliance.
For now, I wonder how many of you currently comply with ‘cookie consent law’ out of choice?
Let me know below if you do or not and your opinion on the new policy: