Ironclad Journal icon IRONCLAD JOURNAL

What Is a Cookie Policy?

Women reviewing a cookie policy on her phone

A cookie policy lets users of a particular website know what cookies run on that website, what data they track, why they track it, and where the cookies send data. It also tells users how to opt out of these cookies and how to change settings around them. Cookie policies are contracts which many people ignore, but tracking and managing them does have benefits.

What is a cookie?

Cookies on computers are tiny packets of text information. They may be your username and password or contain other short data. Most cookies are totally fine. They let you get into a website and let the site owner personalize your experience. They let you look at items now and come back to them later. 

Cookies make your shopping and other web experiences much smoother and more enjoyable. When cookies are not in use, your web browser saves them, only activating them when you visit that same website again. However, if someone finds the right selection of cookies, they have your keywords and other personal data. For a business, certain cookies in the wrong hands can be a key that allows bad actors access to your customers’ or other confidential information.

Example of cookie use

When you sign into an online store, they collect information about you. These cookies allow them to pull up your account’s recent orders, saved items, and item reviews. You can put three items in your cart and then go away for a while. When you return, your cart items will still be there and you won’t need to log in a second time. The store may contract with an online payment system to safely collect your money. This payment system has a cookie too.

Potential cookie problems

Ill-intentioned people will try to go after these cookies. If they can get the cookies, they have a small piece of information about you. They may sell it to another party or hold on to it and combine it with more data that they find. They hope to get something useful, perhaps a keyword or credit card number.

You rarely pick up a single cookie on a website. If that website has ads on it, you get a cookie for every ad. This lets ads follow you as you switch websites. If that website uses other pieces of software to increase functionality, you get a cookie from every piece of software.  Programs have a cookie. Apps have a cookie. Cookies are everywhere online. 

Purpose of a cookie policy

Almost all websites have a cookie policy. The laws of the European Union and California require that websites give their customers information about all the cookies running on their website and ways to opt out of using cookies. 

When do I need a cookie policy? 

If you are selling goods and services on your website and potentially doing business with customers in California or the EU, you need a cookie policy. Have one anyway because it increases customer confidence. You can skip the cookie policy if you make it clear on your website that you do not do business with these places. However, more countries, states, and provinces are adopting consumer privacy laws, often modeled on the EU and California laws, meaning that, sooner or later, you will need a cookie policy.

Parts of a cookie policy

You can add and remove parts of your cookie policy as you need them. In the U.S., industries often have cookie policy standards, rather than laws. However, most businesses have chosen to meet both the California and EU laws. To meet those requirements, your cookie policy should state:

  • The types of cookies on your site
  • How long the cookies stay on your browser
  • What personal data the cookies use and track
  • Reasons for using cookies—performance, marketing, etc.
  • With whom the data is shared, including third parties, and where the data goes
  • How to opt out of cookies and how to make later changes

Limitations of cookie policies

Cookie policies are about cookies, which are only one small part of internet security. Many organizations include their cookie policy in their larger customer privacy policy. There, it may disappear in a tangle of other policies and not reach your customer. Most people do not read cookie policies. The internet is filled with these contracts that people have signed automatically and without knowledge.

How to create a cookie policy

Find out what cookies are operating on your site. You probably have a cookie or two that remember clients as they sign in. Your webpage likely uses programs, apps, and widgets from other companies. Assume that each of these also has cookies and go to their website and check what they list, adding those to your site. Note relevant facts about what information they use and how they use it. Write your policy in simple language. Assume that you are talking to someone who doesn’t speak English well.

Managing cookie policies

Cookies change frequently. You should perform regular cookie audits to find out if the cookies running on your website are the cookies in the policy. Even if you do not change your cookies, your website subcontractors and third-party partners may change theirs. Cookies may hide or be difficult to find. 

Cookie policies can cause headaches

Cookie policies are time-consuming and hard to keep track of. Do you read the cookie policy on every website you visit? Most people do not. People just click ‘yes’ and move on. Even if you read all the cookie policies, do you follow all their updates? The office computer system has many cookies accepted by other users. Besides having your own policy, you need to keep track of all the cookies you collect from other websites. Your company has signed those contracts and may have kept no record of them.

Why cookie policies are difficult to manage

Cookies are scattered throughout your office’s computer system. Everyone who works on a computer is regularly accepting cookies without keeping track of them. While most cookies are beneficial, with so many people online, your system will pick up some that do things you don’t like. They can run away with customer information or information about your business. And you will never see it.  

Automating cookie policy workflows

You have cookies. Third parties on your website have cookies. Your office accepts cookie policies from every website they use. And cookies change. You do not want to hire a team of people to do this constant updating. 

Instead, automate this task. Ironclad’s program can manage all of your cookie data. It keeps track, updates, and notifies individuals when they need to take some action. Our program is a digital contract management system, and cookie policies are small contracts.

Making templates from your workflows

Ironclad will analyze your cookie policies and, from them, produce information you can use. You can look at where the computer needs to do something and when a human needs to do something. Our program helps you build templates of these workflows. Templates allow you to simplify the process. You can make sure the same people are monitoring and performing tasks when needed, rather than having a scattershot approach.

Contract lifecycle management works for cookie policies

Ironclad’s program simplifies and centralizes your cookie policy processes. Whenever someone accepts a cookie, it goes into the system. Then, when you have questions about cookies, you will always find the answers in the same place. You can see which cookies are tracking what data and why. A hidden potential security threat becomes another set of contracts that you can manage and use. 

Ironclad product features that help 

‌Ironclad’s contract management software is full of features that will let you manage and use your cookies. You will always have up-to-date information at your fingertips. You can work with others and keep easy track of what has been done and what needs to be done next.

  • Workflow Designer turns scattered manual cookie management into a dynamic system that keeps track of your data.
  • Collaboration centralizes your work with others, inside and outside of your company, and builds cookie policies in collaboration with your contractors and partners.
  • Digital data platform updates automatically, so you do not have to constantly check to see if cookie policies have changed.
  • Ironclad’s Dynamic Repository places all your cookie policies in one location where you can find them and use them, knowing they are being updated automatically.
  • Artificial intelligence runs with Google Cloud AI and can guide you through the processes that manage your cookie policies.
  • Clickwrap creates enforceable digital contracts, making them easy to sign with a click.

Digital contract management for cookie policies

Digital contract management tames the cookie monster. Ironclad provides a single place that stores all your information about cookies. Using the program, you can look inside a system of contracts—the cookie policies—and get answers. 

This puts you squarely in charge of your data and your customers’ data. Your Legal team knows what cookie policies the office has agreed to. Your Computer Security team sees and tracks potential threats. Where once you had a tangle of policies that was impossible to read or understand, you now have everything nicely arranged and available.

‌‌Cookie policies are just one of the many types of contracts your business uses daily. Visit Ironclad to learn more about contracts and contract management systems. If you would like to see more about how our program can work for you, request a demo.

Want more content like this? Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Book your live demo