Cookies

The Cookie Laws

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As new laws are introduced on the 26th May 2012 thousands of websites are now in breach of a law which dictates what information a website can log about its visitors.

European laws that define what details web sites can record in text files, called cookies, came into force on 26 May.

Cookies are often used to customise what repeat visitors see on a website but they are also used by advertisers to track a users internet behaviour.

The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) stated that it would offer help to non-compliant sites and not seek legal action.  But would want such sites to be able to demonstrate what work they had done in the last year to get ready.

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The new regulations state that websites must get “informed consent” from visitors before that store any detailed information on the visitors computer in the form of cookies.

Whilst UK firms have had 12 months to prepare for the change the ICO has spent much of that time reminding businesses of their obligations.

The ICO recently updated its policy to allow the use of “implied consent” in order to comply with the new laws.  This means that a user does not have to make an explicit choice but their continued use of a website would mean they are happy for information to be gathered.

The ICO are concerned that a large number of sites are still not in compliance with the new laws.  Although Dave Evans, ICO group manager who has led its work on cookies in the past 18 months stated “It is not necessarily easy for companies to comply due to the large amount of work involved.  On busy sites an audit of cookie use could take time due to the sheer volume of cookie they use, monitor and update.”

As well as advising firms, the ICO has also issued guidlines to the public which explain what cookies are, how they can change cookie settings and what to do if they are worried about a site’s cookie policies.

The ICO website can be located here… http://www.ico.gov.uk/

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