Cookies are flat and crisp baked treats, often sweet and
usually delicious. Internet or website cookies are not. Web cookies
are small pieces of text data sent between a user's browser and
(we bet it does) it's a good idea to review the types of
information being collected.
Web cookies are useful for lots of reasons mostly related to
keeping websites informed of users' preferences. For example,
thanks to cookies, users don't have to pick their city of
choice every time they visit a weather update site. Thanks cookies.
Cookies also tell ad serving companies (like Google AdWords) sites
you've visited and serve you tailored ads, and are responsible
for the Mr Porter ad for those rather spiffy loafers following us
all over the internet.
For the most part, cookies don't contain personal
information meaning website operators needn't worry about
falling foul of the various obligations around the collection, use
and disclosure of that information under the Privacy Act.
However, some web cookies (and the geeks have confirmed this)
do. Broadly speaking, where information can reasonably be used to
identify an individual, that information will constitute personal
information for the purpose of the Privacy Act. Therefore, if the
individual's name or address, Privacy Act obligations kick
Those obligations are mostly contained within Australian Privacy
Principles 3, 5 and 6 regarding the collection, notification of
collection and use and disclosure of personal information. If
cookies are collecting personal information, then:
Individuals must be notified of that collection; and
That information must be handled in accordance with the
Australian Privacy Principles.
The Privacy Commissioner has power to impose penalties of up to
$1.7 million for breaches of the Privacy Act, so now is a good time
to check what kind of cookies you've been baking.
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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