top of page

Golden Path to Web Tracking Compliance: Navigating Legal and Technical Challenges

Updated: May 22, 2023



Golden Path to Web Tracking Compliance: Navigating Legal and Technical Challenges
Golden Path to Web Tracking Compliance: Navigating Legal and Technical Challenges


Introduction


In the vast landscape of the digital world, web tracking has become an essential tool for businesses to understand their audiences and enhance user experiences. However, with great tracking power comes great responsibility. As privacy regulations like ePrivacy Directive and GDPR tighten their grip, it's crucial to find the golden path to web tracking compliance. If you work as a lawyer and are puzzled by the following language


function setCookie(name, value, daysToExpire) {

const date = new Date();

date.setTime(date.getTime() + (daysToExpire * 24 * 60 * 60 * 1000));

const expires = "expires=" + date.toUTCString();

document.cookie = name + "=" + value + ";" + expires + ";path=/";

}


Or a developer that can’t interpret what to do with the following Art.5 in ePrivacy directive.


Member States shall ensure that the storing of information, or the gaining of access to information already stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on condition that the subscriber or user concerned has given his or her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information, in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC, inter alia, about the purposes of the processing.


You are not alone. How about we crack this conundrum once and for all? In this article, we'll guide you to bypass these legal and technical obstacles and land on the right side of the law without depleting your brain cells.



Know Your Intent


A website's first impression is paramount in capturing and retaining the attention of users. That said, why is it necessary to incorporate a cookie policy or cookie banner into the very beginning of a user journey? In fact it is NOT. If your business only presents information to your user and does not read any pre-existing data or write data concerning individuals either locally or remotely, it is not obligated to go through all the hassles. A great example is this pro-privacy website. However, in most business contexts, we need to captivate our users' experiences for seamless navigation. Therefore we often find ourselves end up in situations like the followings:

  • Manage user sessions through different pages;

  • Provide personalized experiences in favor of a user specific language or theme;

  • Gather user interaction information to optimize performance and improve business decision making;

  • Provide seamless login experience or ensure secure access to restricted data;

  • Last but not least, don’t forget the whole Internet is powered by ads and tracking user interests is the key chemical of the fuel.



Make your tracking clear through a notice


Your business might have many intentions to track the users. Make them super clear to your users through easily understandable information. Explain the purpose of tracking, how data will be used or retained, and any third parties involved. Transparency builds trust and helps users make informed decisions about their data.


Our research shows that users are more likely to engage with a website or application that respects their privacy and protects their personal data. The key is to use concise and plain language and avoid legal terms or technical jargon like above that may confuse or deter your users from reading the policy.


💡 Sharing a secret to our lawyer readers - organize the information into distinct layers or sections that cater to users' varying levels of interest and detail. By structuring your cookie notice with these layers, users can choose the level of detail they want to explore. This approach caters to different user preferences and makes it easier for individuals to find the information they need without overwhelming them with excessive details upfront.



Provide right choices


Imagine you are ordering food at a michelin 5 star restaurant. The waiter meets you up friendly: Good evening Sir. Here is the menu for our main course today.


🥩 Filet Mignon with Red Wine Reduction

🐟 Pan-Seared Sea Bass with Lemon Butter Sauce

🦞 Grilled Lobster with Seared Scallops

🥦 Truffle Risotto with Seasonal Vegetables


Even though you might have dietary restrictions, we pre-selected lobster for you tonight and please proceed with Accept to continue this order. Oh wait, it doesn't really matter what you order, we have already cooked your meal and we have a legit reason to believe that you will enjoy it.


💡 That is going to be absurd huh? When it comes to building a compliant tracking management experience, here are four-straightforward DOs and DON'Ts to our product and tech people.


✅ DO categorize your tracking activity under at least Necessary, Functional, Marketing and Analytics purposes and group your cookies accordingly;


✅ DO provide both Accept and Reject option on the first layer of a consent banner;


✅ DO require users to take affirmative actions;


✅ DO offer an option so users can withdraw consents;


⛔ Do NOT pre-select the consent category for your users;


Do NOT use ambiguous languages;


⛔ Do NOT overwhelm your users with never ending consent options;


⛔ Do NOT abuse legitimate interests as a lawful basis.



Timing Timing Timing


We made sure the consent is informed, unambiguous and freely given from the previous practices. One key requirement we ought to focus now is to obtain the consent prior to any personal data being read or written. Why is it the most important step and oftentimes the most common offender of unlawful implementation?


Remember what the law says: user concerned has given his or her consent. It requires obtaining user consent before processing their personal data through cookies or other tracking technologies. Failing to obtain consent in a timely manner can result in non-compliance, leading to potential legal consequences, fines, or reputational damage.


Furthermore, users have become more privacy-conscious and expect organizations to respect their privacy rights. Obtaining consent in a timely manner aligns with user expectations and demonstrates your commitment to protecting their privacy, thereby enhancing their overall experience with your website.


What sounds like a clear and simple step in legal definition sometimes can pose complex challenges in technical implementations. Don't worry we've got you covered.


💡A tip to our product and tech readers when it comes to design and implement a consent management software. Load the cookie consent management script inside the <head> or <footer> section of your single page application. Prior to obtaining users consents,


🚫 Disable any script that might read or write personal data from/to cookies, local storage or session storage;


Do NOT transmit personal data to your backend or any third parties except absolutely essential for running your website;


🙅‍♀️ Never fingerprint your site visitors using their hardware, software attributes.



No process no compliance


Maintain a record of when and how consent was obtained within your web application. Capture the date, time, and version of the cookie notice displayed to the user. These records serve as proof of compliance and can be helpful during audits or should inquiries arise.


Regularly review and update your cookie notice and consent mechanisms to align with any changes in regulations or your data processing practices. Stay informed about evolving privacy laws and adapt your consent management strategy accordingly.


Conduct periodic audits to identify any gaps or issues that need to be addressed. Implement mechanisms for reporting and handling user complaints related to cookie consent.


💡It indeed entails a lot of hard and repetitive work. That is why leveraging a third party service that can help your business streamline the whole process and always stay above compliance should be your obvious choice.



Final words


Cookies are just a mechanism of storing / transferring data and not your enemy here. Unlawful tracking is. While the world is moving towards a cookie-less future, one could argue, the usage of cookies for third party tracking might come to a halt but tracking itself is an inherent feature of the World Wide Web and will remain. Any new privacy friendly initiative like the usage of FLoC in Privacy Sandbox might sound appealing from the first look. Digging deeper, you find criticism towards it has exposed the smoke screen Google created. It is never as simple as getting rid of Cookies but another covert approach to track users. The real question is how do we ethically track users while building a trustworthy service. Unfortunately legal regulations like ePrivacy Directive and GDPR can only go so far to stipulate what has to be done but not how to do it. Hopefully our golden path helps you close the gap between the interpretation of regulations and an actual implementation.


We have demystified the compliance of web tracking. Now it is time to build trust with your users. The good news is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel or expose your business to unnecessary risks. With Privacy1 by your side, your business can effortlessly tackle the challenges with our Cookie Consent Management service. Contact us to hear more about how to solve your web compliance challenge within 1-line of code through a simple 3-step process (Scan → Config → Publish).

45 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Комментарии


bottom of page