EU Cookie Law

What is a cookie

A Cookie is a simple text file that a browser places on your computer’s hard drive on behalf of the website being viewed. The Cookie usually contains information, such as a user or session ID, that allows the website to remember who the visitor is across multiple page views or browsing sessions. The most common reasons cookies are placed are to keep a visitor logged in to a website or to remember the contents of a shopping basket. Many of us use an analytics system of some sort, Google Analytics for example uses cookies to track and store anonymous visitor behavior. Here’s some further info (BBC)

The Law

The council of the European Union has approved legislation that requires internet users to consent to the use of cookies. On May 25th, 2011 the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) came into being. UK based websites and companies have a deadline of May 25, 2012 to comply with the guidelines that ICO has laid out for gaining “Cookie” consent from the user.

What you need to do

The following are the guidelines to achieve compliance with this new “Cookie” law. Ideally, by 25th May, 2012, all the websites should have:

  • Audited the cookies currently being used
  • Updated the privacy policy on the website to include the use of cookies
  • Implemented or be working on implementing a method of offering opt-in to cookies

Full ICO guidance (pdf download)

Does this apply to me?

There are a few cookies that are exempted from the requirement to obtain consent:

  1. A cookie used to remember the goods a user wishes to buy when they proceed to the checkout or add goods to their shopping basket.
  2. Certain cookies providing security that is essential to comply with the security requirements of the seventh data protection principle for an activity the user has requested – for example in connection with online banking services.
  3. Some cookies help ensure that the content of your page loads quickly and effectively by distributing the workload across numerous computers.

Cookies unlikely to fall within this exception:

  1. Cookies used for analytical purposes to count the number of unique visits to a website for example
  2. First and third-party advertising cookies
  3. Cookies used to recognize a user when they return to a website so that the greeting they receive can be tailored

And if I Don’t Comply?

ICO will first give the organisation the opportunity to comply. However, penalties of up to £500,000 can be applied by it to offenders. It is a LAW. It is here to stay.

What we can do to help

Conduct a Cookie Audit. deploy a Cookie Policy page and implement our Cookie Monster plug-in for your site visitors to opt in/out.

If you are unsure about the Cookie law or would like further advice or help implementing the necessary steps please get in touch.

If you would like to understand how EBT uses cookies, please refer to our Cookie Policy

Reference / Source

http://www.ico.gov.uk

http://www.searchenginejournal.com

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