EU Cookie Law Deadline, 26th May 2012
What are cookies?
A cookie is a small file stored on a users computer by the browser when they visit a website that leaves cookies. The browser can read a users cookies and send information back to websites that a user visits. Cookies are primarily a mechanism for websites to remember things that a browser had done there in the past, which can include having clicked particular buttons, logging in, or having read pages on that site months or years ago. Cookies can also be used to track users browsing patterns, such as those left by Google Analytics.
So what's the issue with cookies?
It's possible that cookies can be used on commercial websites to target advertising at users based on browser and internet patterns and history. It is possible this has privacy implications and so the Information Commissioners Office (ICO http://ico.gov.uk/) has created a policy to prevent this happening.
What does the policy require?
Although cookies can be turned off by a user on a per browser basis, due to said privacy concerns, the ICO has decided a user must opt in to receive cookies rather than opt out. The EU cookie law which comes into force on May 26th 2012, requires websites to gain consent from visitors to store or receive any information on a computer or any other web connected devices (e.g. smartphone or tablet). The cookie law has been designed to protect online privacy of customers by making them aware, and giving them a choice, about the amount of information collected by websites. After May 26th 2012 if a business is not compliant, or is not visibly working towards compliance, it will run the risk of enforcement action and a possible fine of up to £500,000.
What are the implications?
What do I need to do?