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Cookie Control Made Easy: What Is Cookie Control and How to Manage It?

Cookie control is an essential aspect of website management, given its role in protecting user privacy and meeting legal requirements.

In this article, we’ll cover what cookie control is and how you can manage it on your website. We’ll also discuss the rules and regulations surrounding cookies and provide tips for avoiding common mistakes.

cookie control

🍪 What are cookies, and why are they used?

Cookies are small text files that websites store on users’ devices. They enable websites to remember user preferences, and they can have different purposes, including the following:

  • To give you a more enhanced experience of the website you’re visiting: trackers can remember your password or the items you’ve added to your cart during online shopping;
  • To track your online behaviour and/ or give you targeted offers and advice: trackers are the reason behind these shoes you’ve looked for online and that now keep popping up everywhere!

However, cookies can also raise privacy concerns, particularly when they’re used for tracking purposes.

Cookie control refers to the process of managing and controlling the use of cookies on a website, including obtaining and managing valid user consent for the use of cookies, and is a widely discussed and analyzed topic in the digital space since the entry into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the ePrivacy (Cookie Law), and other laws, including US laws such as the California Privacy Rights Act CPRA.

👉 One of the most popular ways to achieve cookie control is by providing a cookie banner or pop-up banner on the website that informs users about the use of cookies and allows them to accept, reject, or personalize their preferences.

In addition, under most privacy laws, it is crucial to obtain user consent before storing cookies on their devices and to provide the option to withdraw consent and control the data collected through cookies. Not doing so, can lead to hefty fines!

📌 Cookie Control: What are the rules on cookies?

Cookie control regulations vary by region, with the EU and the US having different requirements.

In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets out specific rules for obtaining user consent.

While in the US, there is no federal law governing cookie control. However, some states have enacted their own laws, such as the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA), the Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), among others.

Let’s take a look! 👀

🇪🇺 Cookie Control in the EU

In the EU, cookie control is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive (or Cookie Law). This regulation requires website owners to obtain explicit user consent before setting non-essential cookies, such as those used for tracking and advertising purposes.

The cookie notice must:

  • briefly explain the purpose of the installation of cookies that the site uses;
  • clearly state which action will signify consent;
  • be sufficiently noticeable;
  • link to a cookie policy or make details of the categories of cookies, cookie purposes, usage, and related third-party activity, available.

Additionally, the Cookie Law requires users’ informed consent before storing or accessing information on user’s devices.

This means that if you use cookies, you must:

  • inform your users that your site/app (or any third-party service used by your site/app) uses cookies;
  • explain, in a clear and comprehensive manner, how cookies work and what you use them for;
  • obtain informed consent prior to the storing of those cookies on the user’s device.

In practice, you’ll need to show a cookie banner (also called cookie notice) upon the user’s first visit, implement a cookie policy, and allow the user to provide consent – unless your website uses solely exempt cookies, which is highly unlikely. Prior to consent, no cookies — except for those exempt — should run or be installed.

Remember, the consent must be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. This means that users must be fully informed about the purpose of the cookies and must actively consent to their use.

Failure to comply with the GDPR’s cookie control requirements can result in hefty fines and legal consequences.

💡 Do you need to get a better grasp of European privacy laws? Check this Quick Overview of European Privacy Laws

🇺🇸 Cookie Control in the US

In the United States, there is currently no federal privacy law that sets out clear guidelines for cookie control or cookie consent.

In the absence of federal legislation, many websites operating in the US choose to adopt privacy control measures that comply with the strictest state laws, such as the CPRA, to ensure they are in compliance with regulations.

Specifically, if you process consumers’ personal information for certain purposes, including but not limited to, targeted advertising, sale or sharing, some of the US state privacy laws, such as the CPRA (CCPA amendment) and VCDPA, require you to:

  • clearly inform users about this processing and their right to opt out;
  • provide your users with easily accessible privacy controls to exercise their right to opt out at any time and respect their choices.

👉 Check an US State Privacy Laws Overview

Not sure what privacy laws actually apply to you?

👉 Do this free 1-min quiz


As tracking technologies are regulated in different ways and by various privacy laws, remember:

  • 🇪🇺 Main European privacy laws refer to trackers and similar technologies. This means informing users and blocking trackers before obtaining consent (opt-in) are requirements that apply to both cookies and tracking pixels;
  • 🇺🇸 Main US privacy laws require that you disclose processing/sharing of personal information and provide a means to opt-out. By using cookies and/or tracking pixels, you gather personal information on users and have to comply.

📌 How to manage cookie control

To manage cookie control on your website, you can take the following steps:

  • Identify what cookies your site uses
  • Choose a cookie management tool that suits your website’s needs and covers the legislation that may apply to you.
  • Customize your cookie banner or pop-up to reflect your website’s branding and message.
  • Implement user consent options for the types of cookies used on your site, in accordance with the laws that apply to you.
  • Regularly update your cookie policy page with the latest information on your site’s use of cookies and how users can manage their preferences.

👉 By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your website is in compliance with relevant privacy regulations and protect the privacy of your site’s visitors.

How can I comply with all these requirements?

As you see, being compliant requires a series of careful evaluations. A careless approach could expose you to massive fines and official reprimands.

That’s why it’s always wise to seek professional advice or rely on quality software, like iubenda!

It’s easy:

🚀 Select the services/technologies used on your website that collect personal data;
🚀 Choose whether to comply with US and/or European laws simultaneously, in one click;
🚀 Generate automatically a privacy policy with all country-specific disclosures;
🚀 Customize and display a consent banner, set prior blocking of trackers!

iubenda provides a full set of solutions to help you comply with the cookie requirements, taking the guesswork out of compliance.

Get started now! It’s never been so easy.

Generate a free cookie banner