What is a Cookie Banner? – Everything you need to know!

Everything you need to know aboutr Cookie Banners

Love-hate relationship cookie banner. Many users of the World Wide Web are simply annoyed by the not-so-small banners that literally jump out at you when you open a website. They ask for consent to so-called “cookies”. That’s annoying – we can totally understand that! But website operators in particular can no longer get around the topic of “cookie banners” since the ruling in case C-673/17 of the ECJ. But what is actually behind the term cookie banner? Are cookie banners mandatory? What legal requirements do they have to meet? Are cookie banner generators useful? And why do many Internet users prefer cookies on their plates rather than on their computers?

All this and much more you will learn in this article!

We must point out that the following statements do not constitute legal advice. Therefore, we can only give you evaluations from our intensive experience with the EU legal regulations in practice and a technical assessment of the situation.

What is a Cookie Consent Banner?

You may be wondering why we are suddenly talking about a “Cookie Consent Banner”. This is because a cookie banner is also known as a cookie consent banner, cookie notice, consent management platform (CMP) or cookie notice. However, the most popular term is cookie banner. Strictly speaking, this term is not correct. It is not only about the management of consent for cookies, but also about the management of additional purposes, such as the processing of personal data in the sense of the GDPR. But admittedly: Cookie Banner is more memorable and also sounds cuter.

…but what is a cookie banner good for?

A cookie banner is a consent management tool that allows website visitors to individually set which services on a website they agree to and which they reject. The request for preferences is usually displayed before they have access to the entirety of the website’s content. The only pages that must not be “covered” by a cookie banner are legally binding sub-pages such as the privacy policy or the imprint.

In general, if the user has not consented to the use of a service, it may not be played on the website. For example, you could see a live chat on this website, but only if you have allowed us to display it.

As a website operator, you are obliged to obtain the active, informed consent of your website visitors to set non-essential cookies and to process personal data correctly.

What are cookies?

When you think of cookies, two things probably come to your mind: a tray full of moist, warm, delicious biscuits decorated with chocolate drops, or those ominous “cookies” that circulate around the World Wide Web and have something to do with tracking. In this case, it’s (unfortunately) about the latter 😉

But what are cookies on the internet? Generally speaking, cookies are small text files that are stored on the user’s computer when they visit a website (e.g. eBay or Amazon). When the visitor accesses this website again later, the information stored in the cookie is automatically used again. Among other things, they contain information about individual page settings, the language or also the unique identification of you as a website visitor (the infamous “tracking”) – i.e. very relevant data for website visitors as well as for website operators. They are therefore enormously valuable for operators of blogs, online shops or similar internet presences. Hence, it is all the more important to comply with the regulations.

As already mentioned, in the previous section, the setting of certain cookies requires the prior, individual consent of each visitor.

When are cookie banners legally compliant?

It is no secret that cookie banners are not everbody’s darling. There are even initiatives that actively advocate the abolition of cookie notices of all kinds. This raises the question: What is the legal basis for cookie banners? This is where the ePrivacy Directive (Directive 2009/136/EC) Art. 66 (also called Cookie Policy) for the setting of cookies (and cookie-like information) and Art. 6 GDPR for the processing of personal data come into play.

In Germany, the German legislator has also regulated the requirements for a cookie banner in Art. 25 f. TTDSG (Telecommunications Telemedia Data Protection Act). The law will come into force on 01.12.2021. If you do not yet have a cookie banner on your website that complies with the law, you can dig deep into your pocket – because of the high penalties of the GDPR up to 25 million euros (or even more if you own a large company 😉 ).

In addition, the EU is working on the ePrivacy Regulation (as the successor to the ePrivacy Directive), which is supposed to regulate cookie banners uniformly throughout the EU. When exactly this will come into force is not yet foreseeable at the time this article was written.

Are cookie banners mandatory on every website?

One thing is for sure: as mentioned earlier in the article, website operators based in the EU or targeting website visitors from the EU, among others, are obliged under the EU Cookie Regulation to inform their visitors comprehensively about the storage of data – in their browser, for example. Only by doing so they can comply with legal requirements for data protection on the internet.

Therefore, according to the ePrivacy Directive, the storage of this data is only possible after the user has given their consent – also known as the opt-in procedure. Unless they are so-called technically essential cookies. Essential cookies are only those without which the basic functionality of your website would no longer work. For example, the shopping basket cookie in an online shop.

And what is the best way to implement this consent? With a cookie banner, obviously! So that this topic does not go beyond the framework of this article, we have of course also provided you with super simple explanations on the essential questions of why you need consent and when you need a cookie banner.

Cookie banners and apps

Do apps need cookie banners? This is a legitimate question because the topic of apps and data protection is also very relevant. You have probably noticed from time to time that apps also ask for your consent to handle data. Basically, apps and other programmes that want to store non-essential data on the user’s computer or smartphone also require individual consent.

So, the next time you install an app, it’s worth taking a close look at what data it wants to store on your device. You can usually only change this consent later, hidden deep in the settings.

Is it possible to block cookie banners on websites?

The question of all questions: is it possible to hide cookie banners? Because, as already mentioned, cookie banners literally get on the nerves of many website visitors. Therefore, the question is justified whether it is possible to block or switch off cookie banners. The answer is simple: an unequivocal yes/no. It is possible because so-called “adblockers” exist that allow visitors to block this type of content, among other things. However, there are a few cookie banner plug-ins – such as Real Cookie Banner – which override the effectiveness of adblockers due to integrated anti-adblocker systems. As a website operator, you can therefore assume that the cookie banner will continue to be displayed when you visit your website. This means that you can obtain all the consent of your website visitors to the setting of cookies and the processing of personal data.

What requirements must a cookie banner meet?

What should a cookie banner include? What must a cookie banner look like? Which text and which buttons should a cookie banner contain if the website only uses necessary cookies? How do I avoid incorrect wording or a complete lack of necessary information in the cookie banner? Many questions that you can ask yourself about a cookie banner!

When it comes to the wording a cookie banner text must contain, many website operators often quickly reach their limits. The saying “good advice is expensive” also hits the nail on the head in this case because professional advice from a lawyer is definitely not affordable for everyone. Not only in terms of text design can you fall into legal traps faster than you think. Not only in terms of text design can you fall into legal traps faster than you think. When it comes to design, there are also a few pitfalls that you, as a cookie banner newbie, can’t anticipate. But who wants to work their way through dry, usually barely comprehensible legal texts or can/would like to spend a lot of money on professional advice for a small hobby blog? That’s right, hardly anyone!

How useful is a cookie banner generator?

Admittedly: The hurdles in setting up a cookie banner can be daunting. Meanwhile, many cookie banner providers on the internet present their solution as the perfect one. Some supposedly ideal solutions are free cookie banner generators, which are presented as a convenient all-in-one solution that places a cookie notice on your (WordPress) website quick and easy. However, many cookie banners are not legally sophisticated enough or are simply not up to date. So, caution is advised here!

As a basic rule, we can recommend not using a cookie banner or cookie notice generator that is exclusively free of charge. The legal requirements are so complex that good consent management solutions require many full-time months of work. This work is usually not given away by any provider.

Set up a Cookie Banner for your WordPress website now!

If you run a WordPress website, you should definitely use a cookie banner plugin. We have taken a closer look at the 3 best cookie plugins for WordPress to help you find the ultimate cookie banner plugin. This will make it effortless for you to get your DSGVO-compliant cookie banner!

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