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Why You Don't Actually Need a Cookie Banner

It's Only Lawmakers That Like Them Anyway

Simon Coulthard April 17, 2024

4 Minute Read

Did you know that only 0.1% of internet users consent to legally compliant cookie banners?

That's according to a study of 5,000 websites by Ruhr University Bochum in Germany and the University of Michigan in the US, and you can learn more about it on the International Association of Privacy Professionals' website.

Sure, it's a small sample size but even if a larger study finds that there's actually a higher acceptance rate, it's doubtful that the results would be so different as to suddenly vindicate cookie consent banner usage. Simply put, cookie compliance banners are pointless popups that distract website visitors and prevent the third party platforms that rely on cookies from functioning properly.

In this blog, you'll learn about these ugly barriers to data collection, and what businesses can do to rid themselves of them altogether.

Let's dive in!

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​​​​​​As you can see, there's no shortage of different cookie consent banner designs to choose from, as well as the details that businesses or cookie consent management platforms choose to include in them. However, they generally always have the following information related to a website's cookie practices:

  • Details on the types of cookies that the website collects.
  • Information on the right to opt out of cookie data collection.
  • A link to the business' privacy or cookie policy.

The content included matters if businesses are to meet their legal obligations around personal data. Unfortunately, most cookie banners don't meet compliance criteria but more on that later.

So Far So Good, But What Are Cookies?

Cookies are small text files that a website stores on the visitor's device, and which hold information about their browsing history, preferences, and interactions during their session.

It's fair to say that pretty much all websites use cookies. If, for instance, your website has an account login, provides shopping services, or has systems in place that personalize the user experience, it probably uses cookies to make this possible.

They're also an essential part of many third-party website integrations.

Ad networks use them to track user behavior and provide targeted advertisements based on interests and browsing history. Social media plugins use them to track interactions and provide personalized content. Content Delivery Networks may use them to optimize content delivery, track performance, and provide security features (though our CDN doesn't). Analytics, eCommerce plugins, and customer support tools also do for their own reasons.

The list goes on. But it's important to remember that cookies are not in themselves bad. They're not malware and won't harm your computer, but instead help web developers to give internet users a better online experience. 

So, What Exactly Are the Dangers of Cookies?

Cookies collect personal data and open website visitors up to a variety or risks that include:

  • Privacy Violations: Cookies can track users' browsing habits and store personal information, raising privacy concerns if this data is collected without consent or used for intrusive purposes.

  • Security Risks: Malicious cookies, such as third-party tracking cookies or session hijacking cookies, can pose security risks by potentially exposing users to malware, phishing attacks, or unauthorized access to their accounts.

  • Tracking and Profiling: Cookies used for tracking and profiling purposes by advertisers or data brokers can result in targeted advertising, invasion of privacy, and the creation of detailed user profiles without users' explicit consent.

  • Identity Theft: In some cases, cookies can store sensitive information such as login credentials or financial details, making users vulnerable to identity theft or unauthorized access to their accounts if these cookies are compromised.

  • Tracking Across Devices: Persistent cookies and cross-device tracking techniques can link users' online activities across multiple devices, leading to a loss of anonymity and privacy as their behavior is monitored and analyzed across different platforms.

ePrivacy, GDPR, and Cookie Banners

It feels like cookie banners have been around forever. But they actually rose to prominence after the arrival of the 2002 ePrivacy Directive, also known as the European Cookie Law or ePrivacy for short. This was a response to growing concerns about online data privacy and the use of cookies for tracking the behavior of internet users.

Despite this, many people associate them with the arrival of GDPR in 2018 and it's true that this law precipitated widespread adoption of cookie banners. Cookie banner GDPR regulations place responsibility on businesses to obtain explicit, opt-in consent from users before collecting and processing their personal data, including the use of cookies.

If you're looking for more detailed information about Europe's data privacy framework and analytics integrations, feel free to click into the link below:

Read the Blog: Data Privacy Legislation and EU Analytics Cookie Compliance

But it's clear enough already that if anyone likes cookie banners, it's European lawmakers. And since GDPR continues to be used as a model for national and regional data protection laws more than half a decade later, we could say the same about other legislators around the world.

But what does this mean for your business?

Do I Need a Cookie Banner on my Website?

The short answer is that if your website uses cookies, then yes you need a cookie banner.

But if your website only uses exempt cookies, then no banner is required. Instead, you can just explain these cookie practices in your privacy policy and add a link in your header or footer to make this document accessible from any webpage.

It can also depend on factors such as your target audience and the data privacy regulations that impact your business. Some countries have looser laws than others and if all your customers come from one of these locations, then you might be ok.

But if you're unsure about your GDPR cookie banner requirements, you can always click into Cookiebot, CookiePro, or another free cookie checker for confirmation.

But What Do Internet Users Think of Them?

Not much, it turns out.

Admittedly, people are more aware about the dangers posed by the internet to their privacy than ever before. But since most cookie banners aren't legal to begin with, they're hardly an ideal solution to this problem. They're just an annoying part of the modern online experience and this is reflected in research on how often they're rejected by website visitors - just look at these figures from France in 2022:

Frequency of Cookie Consent By Visitors

Of course, 28% is much higher than the figure mentioned at the top of this blog but it fails to mention that the vast majority of cookie banners don't meet legal requirements and this raises the question:

It's simple really - choose website infrastructure and third-party integrations that don't use cookies.

There are privacy-first companies operating in every software subsector you can think of. Today, technological advancement means that even website analytics can be done without impinging on user privacy. And if you want information, check out our research on the best cookieless tracking solutions in 2024.

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Our advanced website intelligence solution will enable anyone to grow their website quickly, while protecting visitor data rights and driving up their ESG rating. Sign up for free today, remove your ugly cookie banner, and supercharge data collection!

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That's How the Cookie Banner Crumbles!

Cookie banners are the sunday drivers of the internet - they ruin everyone's experience and stop everything from working as it's intended.

Of course, we would say that. We're privacy advocates, and our mission is to provide businesses with the insights they need to guide online success without putting website visitors at risk.

If you're looking to move away from reliance on cookies, then one good first step is to restrict website integration selection to third-party platforms that respect data privacy.

Why not start today? Sign up to TWIPLA for free and see for yourself the power of privacy-focused website intelligence.

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