Cookies and the Internet: What's the New Cookie Rule Baking up for Americans?

Many users of the internet noticed a large uptick in the amount of tracking (“cookie”) windows popping up at them when they first get to a site. This is the result of a new standard by the European Union to give users more privacy and control over data that is shared by websites.

What are Cookies? 🍪🍪

Cookies are little pieces of information that are saved to your computer that help websites give users more personalized experiences on their websites. 

“Magic” cookies are bits of information like usernames and passwords that help expedite your experience the next time you need to sign into a website, either suggesting the information when you see a login screen (like in some banking websites) or perhaps pushing users directly through the login area (commonly used on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram) to interact directly with the “gated” information they came to view.

HTML” cookies are the evolved version of magic cookies. They contain more information including little bits of tracking information (like keeping track of items in a shopping cart) that can help the business in many ways including showing ads to consumers that are more personalized for their interests as well as more complicated information regarding preferences and interests on websites.

Rejecting and Accepting Cookies

The “Cookie Banner Law” as it’s been commonly called, is an effort to give users more freedom and perhaps awareness of the amount and type of information that is kept about them by websites.

There are generally two or three options that show themselves to users when a website is complying with the Cookie Banner Law.

  1. To reject all cookies. This means that the website will not track your browser at all and won’t store any cookies on your computer. Some businesses have decided that this avenue doesn’t make sense for their model and will tell users that they must accept at least some cookies to interact with their site.
  2. Which leads us to accepting only the necessary cookies. This means that users must accept whatever the business has decided are the bare minimum amount of cookies that users need to interact with the site in a way that makes sense to the business model. Often this will be magic cookies or a small amount of information about the preferences of the user.
  3. Accepting all cookies. This sounds like the most invasive (and it is) of the three options but is actually just business as usual from before the new rules. Websites pop as many little cookies as they have decided are useful to each user in hopes that they can provide a more personalized experience and sometimes more accurate advertising to follow users around to other sites.

What does that mean for ‘Murica?

In the United States, there still isn’t as much in place to keep users abreast of what information is taken from them, but because the internet is an international community, American websites expecting visitors from other countries are complying with the rules that the EU has put in place. 

Generally, it has been affecting businesses more than consumers as they scrambled earlier this year to make sure that they were in compliance with this new system of regulations.

While there is and has been interest in limiting the information that Americans give out on the internet for years, our rules about cookies are still pretty loose when it comes to how we market on the internet and social media.

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