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What’s left in the cookie jar?

May 25, 2012

Written by Fantastic Media

You may have heard about a new EU directive relating to the use of cookies within websites. This directive has been mooted around for over a year with many industry experts believing that it cannot and will not be enforceable.

experts believing that it cannot and will not be enforceable

Enforceable or not, the directive is advising website owners to begin looking at implementation from May onwards.

The directive is in respect to the use of cookies within websites. In 99% of web sites cookies are used simply to monitor web site traffic, usually through Google Analytics, so that you can see how your site is performing.

We have attached the actual directive in our cookies section but essentially the new law requires you to:

  • • tell people that the cookies are there on your site
  • • explain what the cookies are doing, (i.e. to monitor web traffic)
  • • Obtain their consent to store a cookie on their device

Most websites place cookies on visitors’ devices so we want to help you understand this legislation and help you make efforts to become compliant.

Essentially web site owners have the following options

Option 1
Remove all 3rd party cookies from your site meaning that you are fully compliant but will have no analytics facility. 

Option 2
Explain that your website uses cookies, discreetly but clearly on the footer of every page on the web site and offer a link through to your privacy policy where you should explain what cookies are placed and for what purpose, and that by using the website the visitor agrees to your privacy policy. Within this option we will create a legally approved privacy policy detailing what cookies are used for on your site and implement all web updates within 1 month of instruction to proceed.

Option 3
A clear popup on the homepage of their website asking for the visitor to agree to the use of unobtrusive cookies to store information on your computer. To implement this option we would require a short meeting to clarify options available.

General feeling from website experts is that not enough guidance has been offered regarding the exact steps you needed to become compliant. Industry opinion believes that 80% of people will do nothing to comply, however this matter is likely to be debated for some time yet as highlighted the quotes below prove.

The DCMS (department for culture media and sport) told the BBC that while its guidelines will be available at the end of this month, the details of how companies should roll them out will not be ready for the May 25 deadline. “The technical solutions simply aren’t ready yet. It is a highly complex area and needs a huge amount of work,” he said. “We don’t think it is appropriate for enforcement action to be taken while solutions are being developed,” said a spokesman for DCMS. “We are not saying that we won’t take action. We expect firms to be working towards solutions,” said a spokeswoman for the ICO.

Quote from the ICO (The information commissioner’s office

Many websites use Google Analytics to find out more about how people get to the website and use it once they are there. It can be a very useful tool, but you have to take the cookie law into account.

Analytics works through a piece of code on all or some of the site’s pages, which sends data back to Google.  Analytics also requires cookies. The site owner can log into Google’s website and run a wide range of analysis reports about their website.  The Information Commissioner is clear that analytical activities are covered by the new law, as they are not ‘strictly necessary’ for the functioning of the site. However, his guidance indicates that he believes these cookies to be relatively non-intrusive and that action in this area does not have a high priority.

If your site uses Analytics you need to say so in your privacy statement and decide whether to give users information about how they can prevent Google Analytics from running on their machine.

We must stress that details in this news item and the documents linked on this site are based upon our interpretation of the guidelines and designed to help you become compliant.

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