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So many websites have a banner that can be dismissed but otherwise act like a non-scrolling footer, that explains that cookies are a thing. Why is it necessary?

Is there any reason why this "footer with a close button" is introduced for this, when that kind of UI element is not otherwise used for anything else on the site?

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Short answer: because Europe.

Long answer: Any website that is owned in the EU or targeted at EU citizens (basically every website that would want an international audience) has to have the cookie disclaimer.

The regulation linked above includes a "cookie consent kit" that contains code to display a fixed header on your website. Web developers and designers have adapted that into the fixed footer you have seen, but are likely worried that adapting it too much into an unobtrusive design could run afoul of the letter of the law.

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  • Gee, why couldn't they do something useful like legislate that you can't break the back button?
    – JDługosz
    Mar 25, 2016 at 16:16
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    @JDługosz because the back button isn't a privacy concern storing information about you. Mar 26, 2016 at 9:52

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