Understanding tracking with Cookiedatabase.org

Frequently Asked questions

What is a service?

A service is the (third) party responsible for setting the cookie on your website. For example, Google Analytics sets the cookie _GA in the browser through its domain analytics.google.com. Google Analytics is the service of the cookie _GA.

How to find the retention period

You can find the retention period in your browser. Find the specific cookie, either under your browser settings or (Chrome) via the security lock before the URL. Here you can see the created and expiry date. The difference between these is the retention period.

What do you mean by function or purpose?

Cookies or any other form of local storage can have a function and a purpose. A function is the particular task a cookie has. So a function can be “store the IP adres”. Purpose can be seen as the Why behind the function. So maybe the IP adres is stored because it is needed for Statistics; or it is stored because it is used for marketing/tracking purposes; or it is needed for functional purposes.

There are 5 purpose categories: functional, statistics-anonymous, statistics, preferences, marketing. These are explained below. 

  • statistics:

Cookies or any other form of local storage that are used exclusively for statistical purposes (Analytics Cookies).

  • statistics-anonymous:

Cookies or any other form of local storage that are used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes (Anonymous Analytics Cookies), that are placed on a first party domain, and that do not allow identification of particular individuals.

  • marketing:

Cookies or any other form of local storage required to create user profiles to send advertising or to track the user on a website or across websites for simular marketing purposes.

  • functional:

The cookie or any other form of local storage is used for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network;


The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user. If cookies are disabled, the requested functionality will not be available. This makes them essential functional cookies.

  • preferences:

Cookies or any other form of local storage that can not be seen as statistics, statistics-anonymous, marketing or functional, and where the technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences.


When is data, personal data?

Data is considered ‘personal data’ when it contains at least one personal identifiable dataset. For example: an IP address (location) or a Facebook pixel, which could easily be connected to your social media account for advertizing. When a person can direct or indirect be identified by a cookie, or a category of cookies with the same purpose and service. 

Do you have a template message to send to a third party?

Sometimes it is not possible to easily discover the function and/or purpose of a cookie. If a company is not being transparant about that and not willing to give that information, our cookie-editors will send them the following letter:


“Dear [Name of DPO],

Recently I found out that I must have visited a website where your company or organization places cookies or uses other means of tracking my online behavior.
On my computer I found the following cookies:

• [name 1]
• [name 2]

I would like to know for every cookie: the function or particular task of the cookie ; and for every cookie the why behind the function (the purpose of the cookie can be Essential/Functional; can be to store Preferences; can be needed for Statistical purposes; or can be used for Marketing/Tracking purposes). I would also like to know the period for which the (personal) data and/or the cookie will be stored, or if that is not possible, the criteria used to determine that period.

I base this request on the (local implementations of the) e-Privacy Directive, and on article 12.5 , 13 and 14 of the GDPR.”

How can I use Cookiedatabase.org?

You can use cookiedatabase.org to edit and improve the transparancy on your own cookie policy. Ans as an end-user you can search for more information about cookies and services you might encounter browsing the internet.  Cookiedatabase.org is open data and can be used by anyone. Moderators will check and verify new cookies contributed anonymously from more than 30.000 websites. Want to be one of these websites? Check out the free Privacy plugin with integrated API.

How can I contribute?

You can contribute to Cookiedatabase.org! You can submit cookies and services for review, edit existing cookies and cookie functions. You can also become a moderator to review pending submitted cookies and services. To automatically contribute with new cookies found on your WordPress website, you can download the Complianz plugin. Want to join cookiedatabase.org? Leave us a message!