Cookies & the change in European law19 June 2012
What are Cookies
Cookies are tiny text files placed in your web browser’s folders by websites. They enable the site to perform useful functionality & remember your preferences / actions. For example, filling out parts of forms automatically if you’ve done it before, or remembering if you’re logged in or out of your account.
What’s changed with these information biscuits
Why change the law
Because of plummeting TV & publishing advertising revenues online advertising has had to become a lot more focused. This has brought about a more sophisticated use of web advert space than the blanket billboard approach and now sees internet users being heavily tracked & targeted. You will doubtless have noticed adverts popping up uncannily for products you were searching for in the last few days.
This much closer profiling of people prompted the EU to get tough on the use of website advertising space and in particular the use of any technology (not just cookies) that track the behaviour of a site visit.
It seems that up until the last minute the new laws were going to be a lot more wide reaching & force webmasters to list & gain consent for each individual 1st or 3rd party cookie. The resulting torrent of clicks would have had people hurling computers through windows so an 11th hour compromise was reached allowing websites to merely gain ‘implied consent’. It’s a shame that the decent intentions of the EU will result in just another ‘agree to our Ts & Cs’ button but at this stage neither side of the fence can agree on a workable solution.
Probably, yes. Definitely if you have any of the following:
Google analytics or similar
Facebook like, Tweet etc. buttons
Blog with comments
Penalties for not complying
The Information Commissioner’s Office states that any complaints they receive about a site not complying with cookie regulations will result in the Office contacting the site administrators who will have to declare their intentions to make it compliant. Large penalties have been mooted but it seems doubtful at this point that the ICO would fine any non-huge business unless going out of their way to flout the law.
What can you do
To find out more visit ico.gov.uk