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The new EU Website Cookie Law – Is your website legal?

Jun 21st 2012

On the 26th May 2011 the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) passed a law that in the UK all websites who use cookies need to allow their user’s to Opt-Out. So is your website legal?

What is the EU Cookie Law?

On the 26th May 2011 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) passed a law that in the UK all websites who use cookies need to allow their user’s to Opt-Out.
The Law came in to effect on 26th May 2012 after a year’s grace.

If a website uses Cookies, a basic message needs to be displayed so that a user knows when a cookie is being collected, why that cookie is there and when that cookie is being used.

This is known as “Implied Consent” and seems to be the most common interpretation for the directive, and allows compliance with informed consent. So by allowing users to see they are being cookied and how this is being used, combined with reasonable information to the user on the reasoning behind it and giving instructions on how to opt out, the user is given the ability to make an informed choice on whether or not they wish to allow the cookies on their system to be used.
The UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain are all examples of countries that use this approach.

Want an example of a couple of sites that have implemented this already?

Visit www.bbc.co.uk, www.johnlewis.com

What is a Cookie?

Simply put it’s a small text file that gets stored offline by your browser. Cookies are used by website to store basic data which can often be shared between web pages.

Ever been back to Ebay or Amazon and the website knows your name and welcomes you back?
Ever wondered how they can do that?
Simple: that information was stored in a Cookie.

Some cookies are more sophisticated than that though.
They might record how long you spend on each page on a site, what links you click, even your preferences for page layouts and colour schemes.
They can also be used to store data on what is in your ’shopping cart’, adding items as you click.

Does your website use Google Analytics? Guess what, Google Analytics uses Cookies too!

What if I don’t comply with this law?

Technically, the maximum penalty for not complying is £500,000 for cases where there is a deliberate breach of the law that causes substantial distress.
There are also smaller penalties such as being sent an information notice or an enforcement notice

How can I find out if my website uses cookies?

This free online tool will scan your website for indications that cookies are used.
If they are, we can make your website compliant for you.

Why not try it out for yourself?