The legal position on cookies has never been clearer. You have to ask permission before you can use them, unless they are absolutely necessary for your site to work and do not have any other marketing purpose.
Currently guidance from the UK, Irish, Spanish, French, Dutch and German regulators is all in agreement: Cookies must be deployed on an “opt-in” basis. This includes all tracking cookies, including Google analytics.
The PECR and GDPR work together to compel you to do so. And you don’t want your site visitors to think that you don’t care.
How do people know I am using them?
Some browsers now warn people that cross-site trackers are at work. Firefox and Brave both show this in their top line. Both will show the names of the trackers too. People can also very easily look at the cookies you are using if they open up the developer part of any browser.
Can I just let people know?
No, you need to ask permission first. This means you are relying on what is called “Consent” as your legal basis for processing the data. Consent must be clear and unambiguous and as easily withdrawn as given.
Can I just tell people to switch them off in their browser?
Does this mean I won’t get statistics from Google or Bing?
The reality is that people won’t give you permission, as it takes extra steps. So over time the depth of data available in Google analytics will decrease. You will still get information from Google console and Bing webmaster showing search appearance and clickthrough data.
What can I do about it?
There are a number of cookie permission management tools available that can be used on your website. Or you could just get rid of cookies if you don’t need them. I use Cookiebot. Just make sure it is configured so that it gets permission before anything else is loaded.
If you would like to know more or have any particular concerns please contact me here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org