Crafting a Cookie Policy

Many schools - indeed, many institutions with any online presence - are required to have a statement on their site that describes how cookies are used and stored. A "cookie" for this purpose is not a delicious baked treat, but rather a small text file that contains information about how a user interacts with a website. Each website a person visits can create its own cookies, which are stored on the user's computer/device. Cookies can store all sorts of information about what a user clicks on a website and when, as well as unique identifying characteristics that associate a specific browser with a user account - this is how a website knows that you have "logged in" and can access restricted information.

A cookie policy outlines, at a minimum, what a site uses cookies to do. It can also describe what information those cookies collect, what's done with that data, and how it's protected.

Cookie policies typically cover generic categories of cookies rather than specifically noting every location they're implemented or what they're each used for. Here is some verbiage we composed for the finalsite.com site that could be adapted to your site as well (the below would be true for any of our sites): 

[Finalsite and its partners] use cookies or similar technologies to analyze trends, to provide services to our users, administer the website, track users’ movements around the website, and to gather information about about our user base as a whole (location, browser, etc.) You can control the use of cookies at the individual browser level, but if you choose to disable cookies, it may limit your use of certain features or functions on our website or service. We retain cookies for as long as needed for their purpose.

Our platform uses several different categories of cookies:

Necessary for the operation of the site
Certain cookies are necessary for the operation of the site. For example, certain cookies are used to help keep track of your session status. This makes it possible for you to stay logged into the site as you move from page to page.

User Preferences
We may use cookies to store certain user preferences that you make as you use our site. This allows your preferences to be used when you visit the site at a future time.

Tracking
We use cookies and other tracking technologies to track what pages you visit and how long you stay on a page. We use this information to measure how our site is used and to improve our product. We also use this information to track what users have received administrative notices so we can only show these notices to each user once.

 

You may need to add a section about third-party cookies if you have added services to your site managed by third parties that set their own cookies. For example, if you have embedded on your site a plugin that allows you to display PDF publications such as a yearbook or alumni magazine, that plugin may set its own cookies. This should be noted in your cookie policy, and the cookie policy of the plugin provider should be linked.

Another example of a cookie policy page you may want to look at is https://ec.europa.eu/info/cookies_en.

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