Cookie laws - are you covered?

UK websites must now ask visitors for permission to store cookies.

Last year, the European Union passed new online privacy regulations that stated all websites across the EU must obtain the user's permission before storing cookies.

Previous laws relating to online privacy stated that website owners must tell people how they used cookies, and explain how to ‘opt out’ if users wanted to do so. However, new rules say that cookies can only be placed on machines where the user or subscriber has given their consent.

The only exception to the new rule is for ‘strictly necessary’ cases, such as remembering what a customer added to their shopping cart after they have hit ‘proceed to check out.’

In effect as of May 26, 2011 websites in the United Kingdom were given 12 months to comply with the new laws. Today is way past that, which means any website not complying is now in breach of this law.

Interestingly enough, the BBC has already reported that the government itself missed the deadline.

“As in the private sector, where it is estimated that very few websites would be compliant by 26 May, so it is true of the government estate,” a spokesman said.

Dave Evans of the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “From our point of view we have to recognise that this isn’t an easy area for people to comply. I think this isn’t a matter of just switching off the internet and starting again, it’s not so simple as that.

“There’s lots of work involved. For some of the organisations we spoke to, this cookie audit takes a long time because of the sheer number of cookies that they use. So while we recognise that there are issues around how long this is going to take, what we do expect is that they can at least demonstrate that they’ve a), taken some steps already, but b), that they’ve got a realistic plan that at the end of which they’ll be able to say they can achieve compliance.”

You can read more about the new cookie law and find additional information on compliance over on the ICO’s website.

So where does that leave your website?

We have developed a cookie bar that sits at the top of your website that tells visitors that your website stores cookies, and that gives them the option to leave if they don’t want to have cookies on their computer.

Yes there is a cost, but only a nominal fee, and you need to bear in mind that without a cookie warning bar, you could be breaking the law.

Darren Wilson
KP Studios