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I see many websites put banners on top of their website telling you they want to store cookies on your machine. I don't understand why they would do this, is it a law? I read on wikipedea that the "European Union" passed some law about this here, do I only have to follow the law if my website is being hosted there? if I own a website, should I put a banner a the top also?

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closed as off topic by heavyd, slhck Jan 7 '13 at 18:52

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2 Answers 2

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There is no technical requirement that would require this type of banner to be displayed. The only requirements that might drive this type of UI decision are:

  • Legal requirements, such as when a website is hosted in a certain jurisdiction, as you said.
  • Ethical decisions by the company: the company may decide, even if they are not strictly required to notify the user, that they would like to notify the user that they are storing cookies, because they feel that it is a responsible or morally correct thing to do. For example, if I have a camera monitoring my private property, I am not required to put up a sign letting you know that; but if I choose to put up such a sign for your information, I might want to do that because I feel it is a responsible thing to do.

For those wondering, you can see an example of the kind of "banner" the querant is talking about on a very prominent and legitimate website, such as Ubuntu.com.

Despite having provided all of this information, I don't think it is extremely topical to SuperUser to discuss the legal obligations of website owners, so my answer will not provide a detailed account of which jurisdictions may require this, or other details about law. As they say, "IANAL" (I am not a lawyer).

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In the US, you aren't 'required' to put any notice. However, any legitimate web site will put how they store and use cookies in their Privacy Policy.

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