Free Cookie Policy Template

When you visit any website nowadays, you’ll most probably see a prompt that asks you to accept the use of cookies as you navigate through their online platform. It’s a non-issue to most people, but internet cookies have incurred criticisms over the past decade due to privacy concerns. However, cookies have shed their bad rep through the years and have proved to be one of the most useful tools to improve user experience and navigation online.

Cookies are pieces of information that are stored in your computer as text files. They are sent from the host website to the web browser while you browse through the internet. Cookies are designed in order to help websites remember essential information and record certain browsing activity to make browsing faster and easier.

What is a cookie policy?

What is a cookie policy?

In general, a cookie policy outlines all details the user needs to know about the information the cookies are about to collect and the consent regarding the accumulation of information. It may provide a list of parties that may install cookie through their website and how one can opt-out cookie collection.

Cookie policies exist so that people are more aware of what type of information are going in and out of their machines. Since the information detailed in cookies may be sensitive, it is important that it is handled with the utmost care and protection. Cookie policies are usually included within a website’s privacy policy but can also be created and displayed separately to be more accessible and easier to find.

Cookie policy vs privacy policy

The privacy policy covers a broader field, including all data processes, forms, and mailing lists whereas a cookie policy is focused solely on the use of cookies.

Here are some of the key details one should know about cookie policies and privacy policies:

You won’t notice the operation of web cookies

Privacy policies are in your face and direct, while cookie policies often operate out of sight. If you don’t explicitly look for the cookies that might be storing your information, it can definitely be hard to track them. Thankfully, laws governing cookies require websites to have a detailed cookie policy to help users know exactly how cookies operate.

A cookie policy can change more often than a privacy policy

Cookies have a tendency to change over time as your website may change its technologies, services or affiliates. For that reason, a website’s cookie policy needs to adjust as well. While the whole format of the privacy policy remains static for the most part, the cookie policy should reflect the changes as they happen.

Cookies on a website are often operated by third parties

Most, if not all of the cookies in operation on a website should be detailed within the cookie policy. These cookies are often set and operated by third parties. As such, it is necessary that web owners know how to control these third parties and make sure that they follow the guidelines related to safe and secured cookie administration.

Understanding how a cookie policy differs from a privacy policy is necessary, especially since privacy policies tend to be static while cookie policies tend to change more often. Website owners need to know the challenge and the importance of using cookies, especially since they sometimes cannot control what information is stored in cookies when its set by third parties.

Why you need a cookie policy

A cookie policy may just be integrated into a website’s privacy policy, but that doesn’t make it less important. Most laws require webmasters and publishers to give their site visitors information about cookie use and information-gathering. The laws governing cookie policies may vary from country to country. This means that webmasters really need to be looped in the latest laws to ensure compliance.

A cookie policy is important because:

It informs your site and mobile visitors of the information that they may leave behind.

Your site visitors need to know exactly which traces they may leave behind when they go to a website. That way, they will be more conscious of their behavior online, and they’ll be able to select which information gets left behind in a text string or not.

It harnesses a relationship of trust between a site visitor and a webmaster.

People will keep on coming back to your website once they know that their information is not being exploited and used for malicious means. Having a cookie policy improves a website’s level of transparency, and ensures that site visitors know that they can trust a website to use their information only to improve their user experience online and not for insidious means.

It allows web visitors to be selective about the virtual footprints they leave behind.

As mentioned, having a detailed cookie policy allows your web visitors to know what type of information they leave behind. Apart from this being an informative policy, it also allows web visitors to select which type of information gets left behind every session and which can stay for good. That way, they can have more control over their virtual footprints.

It details how third-party operators should behave.

Many of the cookies are operated by third parties, and some websites do not know all the nitty-gritty details regarding the use of the cookies collected per operator. By having a clean-cut cookie policy, you will be able to state exactly what you will and won’t allow when accessing information left behind by your site visitors.

Having a cookie policy is definitely going to help you a lot since it gives both your site visitors and third-party operators the general guideline on how they should behave online when dealing with text string information. It’s going to be hard to track all details regarding cookies, but having a cookie policy ensures that these people are at least abiding by the rules you set for everyone. Have a better and more transparent online transaction with everyone with the help of a cookie policy!

Cookies and the law

While cookies won’t cause virus or malfunctions on your units, they are still vulnerable when it comes to information exploitation and privacy concerns. People with malicious intent can hijack your cookies. They could use those not just for selective ad targeting, but also for credit card theft, unauthorized access to private accounts, and more.

Here are some of the most notable laws surrounding cookies that you should know:

USA

Cookie policy in the USA

In the U.S., the Behavioral Advertising Principles require webmasters and operators to disclose the fact that they are using cookies to consumers before they collect sensitive information. They should request the consent of the consumers before they start to collect private information.

Web visitors should have the choice to opt-in or out of the cookie data collection practice, and such opt-out policy should be clear, concise, and easy to follow.

European Union

Cookie policy in the European Union

The EU has established a cookie law spanning all countries included in the EU. Just like the US law, the EU’s cookie law requires webmasters to ask for permission from visitors and consumers first before using cookies.

This is a detailed law, as it also requires operators to disclose all types of information, like where information is going to be stored, what this information will be used for, and more. Failure to comply with the cookie law will lead to penalization.

These are just some of the existing laws governing the field of cookie collection online. The common denominator on all these laws is consent; that is, users should know how their data is stored and what these are going to be used for. This is to ensure that no privacy laws are encroached upon, and no one’s data will be used for malicious gains.

What to include in a cookie policy

Crafting your own cookie policy is tricky, as this usually requires a background in writing legal documents. Your cookie policy needs to be detailed, direct, and clear. In order to make sure that you’re complying with the existing cookie laws, your cookie policy should:

  • State that you are actively using cookies on your website.
  • Briefly explain what cookies are and what they are for.
  • Disclose the type of cookies you will use during the website visit.
  • Let your users know why your website uses cookies.
  • Allow your users to opt-out of using cookies.

Here are the three main parts of a cookie policy:

What are cookies?

As mentioned, you should include a section that explains to your customers what cookies are.

How do we use cookies?

In your cookie policy, you should explicitly state how you plan to use the cookies you’ve accumulated from your business. You should let your visitors know what you are going to do with the information you’ve gathered in order for them to know if they want to let you use their private information or not.

How to disable cookies?

Your cookie policy should also include details on how to delete cookies or link to instructions that can be easily understood and followed by people who are using your website.

While cookie policies usually hold more information, these three are the main clauses that you should make more time for when drafting your cookie policy.

Where to display cookie policy?

Cookie policies should not be hidden. They should be displayed in visible locations in order to make sure that people really see the clauses included in cookie policies.

Page footer

Page footer cookie policy

The most common place to display a link to your cookie policy is in the footer of your website along with the other policies (such as privacy, terms, disclaimer).

Popup banner

Cookie consent popup banner

Take note that apart from displaying your cookie policy within your webpages, you may also need to provide a pop-up notification to give users adequate notice about your use of cookies. Most pop-up messages should include:

  1. The fact that your website uses cookies.
  2. Link for more information regarding cookies.
  3. Consent to use cookies.

Sample free cookie policy template

This generic cookie policy template will help you see how everything we talked about so far comes together to form a legal agreement. Keep in mind that this is just an example and does not include some of the important clauses.

Generic cookie policy template

What are cookies?

Cookies are simple text files that are stored on your computer or mobile device by a website’s server. Each cookie is unique to your web browser. It will contain some anonymous information such as a unique identifier, website’s domain name, and some digits and numbers.

What types of cookies do we use?

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies allow us to offer you the best possible experience when accessing and navigating through our website and using its features. For example, these cookies let us recognize that you have created an account and have logged into that account to access the content.

Functionality cookies

Functionality cookies let us operate the site in accordance with the choices you make. For example, we will recognize your username and remember how you customized the site during future visits.

Analytical cookies

These cookies enable us and third-party services to collect aggregated data for statistical purposes on how our visitors use the website. These cookies do not contain personal information such as names and email addresses and are used to help us improve your user experience of the website.

How to delete cookies?

If you want to restrict or block the cookies that are set by our website, you can do so through your browser setting. Alternatively, you can visit www.internetcookies.org, which contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of browsers and devices. You will find general information about cookies and details on how to delete cookies from your device.

Contacting us

If you have any questions about this cookie policy or our use of cookies, please contact us.

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Use our professional cookie policy generator to create an attorney-drafted policy tailored specifically for you and how you run and operate your website. Also, create a cookie consent banner using our cookie consent banner generator.

Final words

Cookies are important, and they make the user experience online easier and more efficient. If you’re a webmaster or publisher, you should make sure that you’re complying with all laws governing cookies and cookie policies online. There are a few important details that you should always include in cookie policies so don't take it lightly.