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ECJ judgment: Cookies not without consent

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided on October 1, 2019 that Cookie use on Web sites is only valid with expressly obtained consent (= "cookie opt-in"). After 25.05.2018 in the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became binding for every web site, this new judgment now represents a tightening in terms of the use of cookies. See also our article on the GDPR from last year. Cookies are text information stored in the user's browser that can be used to identify the user. While most web sites have so far only been using a cookie bar to inform about the usage of cookies, this ruling now states that cookies may not be used until an active consent has been obtained from the user. Cookies may be created through the use of Google Analytics tracking, embedded YouTube videos, social media plugins such as this from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, .... This affects almost every web site unless it does not use a single service that sets cookies. This also means as for example Google Analytics tracking can only be used when the user has agreed with it, so the validity of the Google Analytics statistics can be severely limited or get even almost useless. So one can decide in certain cases, to completely dispense the tracking. Another approach to this issue would be deciding to completely darken the page or do the similar things to completely prevent web-site usage before user's consent was given. That may of course discourage some users, but at least would not distort tracking statistics. How you want to do this in detail is of course a matter of taste.

The exact wording of this judgment can be found here. In this blog article, the most important questions about this verdict are answered by a lawyer.

We are happy to assist you from a technical point of view if adjustments to your web site or web shop become necessary. This could for example be the conversion or establishment of a cookie banner element with active consent and / or the privacy-compliant integration of tracking and social media plugins from Facebook, Google and Co.

However, we cannot provide you with any legal advice on this matter and therefore ask you to contact your legal department or a specialist service provider in order to decide how exactly you want to react to this judgment in your particular case. On the Internet you will also find various sources of information, white papers, explanatory videos and much more on this subject. We definitely recommend professional advice on this point. The penalties for violations can be massive. According to GDPR, we are only obliged to generally inform our customers about all this, which we comply through this article and also a newsletter.