New EU cookie law. How it will affect you.

On 26th May 2011 the laws surrounding the use of tracking cookies on any website changed.

UK websites have been given a year’s time to adopt the EU’s new cookie law which was introduced as part of the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.

[standout]The key change that EVERYONE must be aware of surrounds the issue of consent. The EU guidelines state that a website should seek consent from website visitors every time they visit.[/standout]

What are cookies anyway?

A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers downloaded on to a device when the user accesses certain websites. Cookies allow a website to recognise a user’s machine.

Cookies might be used, for example, to remember your preferences on a website, to record what you have put in your shopping basket before you check out, to count the number of people looking at a website or to look at how users navigate the site.

What you need to do as a business owner

If you own, run or are in any way responsible for a  website in the UK then these rules apply to you.  In addition, you are expected to comply NOW or you can be fined up to £500,000.  Yes – that really IS half a million quid!  UK businesses are being given a year to get their house in order but please note that the law is in place NOW and that means if you aren’t seen to be “doing something” towards compliance, then you might get a fine sooner than the year.

What will actually happen in practice remains to be seen and the Information Commissioners office website can be taken as a benchmark for us all to use.

The phrase the ICO is currently displaying on their website header is this:

On 26 May 2011, the rules about cookies on websites changed. This site uses cookies. One of the cookies we use is essential for parts of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but parts of the site will not work. To find out more about cookies on this website and how to delete cookies, see our privacy notice.

They also have a link to their privacy policy page that sets out the cookies their website uses & what they do.  Finally, the visitor can check a  box to confirm that you accept cookies from the site and a “continue” button to use afterwards.

Although the ICO is an independent body, it will be consulting with business and the UK government so watch this space. There won’t be any huge overnight changes according to government spokespeople but as all this has been introduced with no notice, it;s anyone’s guess when the first enforcement notices are issued.  So common sense advice regarding the new EU cookie directive is starting by bringing your website up to the same standard as the ICO site.

For more information on cookies, you can visit allaboutcookies.org.

Using your internet browser can prevent cookies being used.

Another option is to advise your site visitors to alter their browser security settings so that they do not accept cookies. The only problem with that solution is that some parts of your website may not work properly if cookies are set to do not accept.

Both Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 5 have this facility with Google Chrome about to follow.

Ultimately whatever you do is up to you but you have to do something. The ICO is not issuing a definitive “to do ” list because they recognise that every business is different and will have to find their own solution. If you are not sure then you can download the ICO help sheet on the new regulations or learn more about how the ICO will enforce the new EU cookie regulations.

Dzined are offering a solution to any website owner

As web programmers we are able to offer you a solution to your cookie problems, this will vary with the type of site. If you look at the ICO site there is a statement followed by either user action or inaction. Either way, it is an informed choice. To enable the choice of accepting or declining cookies, there is a fairly simple code update that can be added to your website(s) which takes care of the problem for you permanently.

We charge £35 + VAT to update your website which is better than a £500,000 fine!

For most people, this will come as a bolt out of the blue so if you want to discuss the issues of cookies & how we can up-rate your website to conform with the law, please email hello@dzined.uk , call us on 01920 759001 at any time.

Disclaimer

The solution we are currently offering is based on our current understanding of the European directive. We cannot guarantee that the interpretation will not change or that the directive will not be subject to amendments. Furthermore, we cannot be held responsible for any loss of earning, website functionality (whether cookie based or not) or reputation following any changes we are instructed to make on your behalf. Please also note that changes made can be reversed on request for a further small fee.

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