Why Am I Seeing So Many Cookie Popups?

You may have spotted a growth in cookie popups in recent months and wondered whether your website needs a cookie popup too..

These popups are appearing because of PECR – the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. This regulation has been in force since 2003 but has undergone five major changes, the most recent of which was on 8th September 2018. PECR covers more than just cookies and it also overlaps to some extent with the GDPR but we’ll just focus on PECR and cookies for now …

PECR covers the use of cookies that track information about people accessing a website. It’s aimed at allowing users to understand and control how they are marketed to. The regulation now requires that you obtain the user’s active and clear consent to the use of cookies that will track their actions and that you obtain this consent before setting the cookies. This means that many website that use cookie tracking to advertise products and services (that are customised based on your Internet activity etc) must obtain your permission before they show you the adverts. Hence the large number of cookie popups.

However, this is only for cookies that track information about people. If your website uses cookies for other purposes (eg to keep track of an online shopping basket or to simply enable the site to function correctly), then you do not need a cookie popup.

What about Google Analytics? We encourage you to use Google Analytics. It tracks website activity by using cookies. So, if I use Google Analytics, do I need a cookie popup? Our current understand of this is “generally no”. Normally Google Analytics is being used to track information about the website rather than about people. There are advanced capabilities through Google Analytics that can be used to track some limited information about people and Google Analytics data can be linked to other systems for enhanced tracking but this is not the norm. If you are using Google Analytics in this way then you might need to use a cookie popup but for normal Google Analytics usage, our understanding is that cookie popups etc. are not required.

IMPORTANT: We are not solicitors and do not fully understand the law. We offer the above as our thoughts and commentary only and advise you to consult with a solicitor before taking any action as a result of our thoughts above.