How to determine if your website uses cookies

Cookie Consent Banner, Cookie Policy, How To's

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Donata Stroink-Skillrud

Co-founder and President of Termageddon


If you use the Internet at all, you have probably noticed that many websites have a banner that asks you to consent to the placing of cookies on your device. In fact, with multiple privacy laws now requiring certain websites to have a cookie consent banner, the prevalence of these banners is only increasing. Your website will need a cookie consent banner if: 

  1. Your website collects cookies (if no cookies are collected then there is nothing for the user to consent to and thus a consent banner is not needed); and 
  2. The privacy laws that require cookie consent banners apply to you. 

But how do you actually know if your website collects cookies? The fact is that most modern websites collect cookies so it’s pretty safe to assume that yours does as well. In this article, we will explain what cookies are, how they are used, and how you can determine if your website collects cookies. 

What are cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data sent from a website and stored on your device by your browser. Cookies are used to track a particular individual or user as they perform certain actions. 

How are cookies used?

Cookies are commonly placed on user devices as they can be an integral part of surfing the web. For example, websites may use cookies for any of the following purposes: 

  • Remembering account login information; 
  • Remembering language preferences; 
  • Ensuring security of a website or of sensitive information (e.g. credit card details); 
  • Remembering what a user added to their cart; 
  • Tracking a user to show them relevant advertisements; 
  • Tracking a user to determine what pages they clicked on, how they found a website, and how long they stayed on particular pages; 
  • Tracking what videos a user watched on a website. 

Does my website use cookies?

Option 1: Scan your website

The easiest way to determine whether your website uses cookies is to scan it using a tool that will inform you whether your website does use cookies and what types of cookies it uses. For example, this scanner provided by Usercentrics will inform you of any cookies that are on your website, whether they are provided by you or by a third party (e.g. Facebook cookies). If the scanner states that your website does use cookies, you can use the Termageddon/Usercentrics cookie consent banner generator and the Termageddon Cookie Policy generator to obtain the necessary compliance features for your website. 

Option 2: Features 

You can also determine whether your website uses cookies by taking a look at the features of your website. Chances are that your website will use cookies if it has any of the following features: 

  • Google Analytics or any other similar analytics programs; 
  • Google AdSense; 
  • Facebook Pixel, Twitter advertising, LinkedIn Insights or similar advertising whether the user is tracked; 
  • eCommerce features; 
  • Account logins. 

If you are unsure as to whether your website has any of the above features, you should ask your website designer or developer as they would be aware of the features listed above. 

Option 3: Inspect in Chrome 

Another way to determine whether your website utilizes cookies is to use the “Inspect” feature in Chrome by following the steps below (please note that other browsers offer this type of feature as well): 

Step 1: Right click on the website and click “Inspect”:

Step 2: Click “Application” at the top of the page:

Step 3: Navigate to the “Cookies” tab on the left. You will then see a list of all of the cookies that the website has placed on your device. If the list has any cookies on it, then that means that your website does collect cookies. If the list is blank, then that means that your website does not collect cookies (make sure that you have all cookie blocking features disabled prior to taking the steps above). 

You can also check whether a website utilizes cookies via Chrome by clicking the icon next to the site URL on the address bar:

Step 4: Click “Cookies and site data.

Cookies: next steps

If your website does use cookies, you will need to determine whether the privacy laws that require websites to have a cookie consent banner apply to you. If you use Termageddon to generate your Privacy Policy, you will receive a notice that will inform you whether you need to have a cookie consent banner and you will be able to activate it when creating your Privacy Policy. If you do use cookies and the privacy laws that require a cookie consent banner apply to you, make sure to check out the Termageddon/Usercentrics cookie consent banner solution and the Cookie Policy generator.

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About the Author
Donata Stroink-Skillrud

Donata is the Co-founder and President of Termageddon and a licensed attorney and Certified Information Privacy Professional. She serves as the Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association's ePrivacy Committee and the Chair of the Chicago Chapter of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

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