What are cookies and should I be afraid of them?

Cookies are small text files that websites place on your device as you are browsing. They are processed and stored by your web browser. In and of themselves, cookies are harmless and serve crucial functions for websites.

However, cookies can store a wealth of data, enough to potentially identify you without your consent. Cookies are the primary tool that advertisers use to track your online activity so that they can target you with highly specific ads. Given the amount of data that cookies can contain, they can be considered personal data in certain circumstances. For these reasons, cookie behavior has been addressed the GDPR and will also be important in the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. Furthermore, the C‑673/17 CJEU ruling of October 1, 2019 also focused exclusively on the use of cookies on websites.


Two types of cookies

We can roughly distinguish between two types of cookies:

  • First-party cookies: first-party cookies are put on your device directly by the website you are visiting. The Editor automatically adds a few cookies to your website after you have published it, but they are for performance and statistics purposes only. No marketing-related cookies are added. 
  • Third-party cookies: these are the cookies that are placed on your device, not by the website you are visiting, but by a third party like an advertiser or an analytics system. Third-party cookies may be loading on your website if you have added external content such as Youtube videos, live chat widgets, Google Ads, and so on.


Find the full list of cookies that load on website built in the Editor here.


Cookies purposes 

Cookies are categorized into having four different kinds of purposes:

  1. Strictly necessary cookies: these cookies are essential for you to browse the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the site. Cookies that allow web shops to hold your items in your cart while you are shopping online are an example of strictly necessary cookies. These cookies will generally be first-party session cookies. It is not required to obtain consent for these cookies
  2. Preferences cookies: also known as “functionality cookies,” these cookies allow a website to remember choices you have made in the past, like what language you prefer, what region you would like weather reports for, or what your user name and password are so you can automatically log in.
  3. Statistics cookies: also known as “performance cookies,” these cookies collect information about how you use a website, like which pages you visited and which links you clicked on. None of this information can be used to identify you. It is all aggregated and, therefore, anonymized. Their sole purpose is to improve website functions.
  4. Marketing cookies: these cookies track your online activity to help advertisers deliver more relevant advertising or to limit how many times you see an ad. These cookies can share that information with other organizations or advertisers. These are persistent cookies and almost always of third-party provenance.


How to make sure your website is fully compliant

To make sure that you are in compliance with current legislation, consider taking the following actions in the Editor:

  • In your privacy policy, inform visitors about which cookies you are storing, why and for how long. You can find information about the default cookies that the Editor loads on the website here but be aware of any third-party cookies that may be loading on your website if you have added content such as Youtube videos, embedded widgets, etc.
  • Enable a Cookie notification banner and select the option Visitors should opt-in for cookies to be allowed. This ensures that the Editor only loads the types of cookies that are strictly necessary for the functioning of the website and no other cookies (unless you are using third-party cookies).

  • Ensure that visitors can revoke a previously provided consent by ticking the box Enable cookie opt-out. Read more here.
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