The Clash of the Cookies

You may have heard about the EU Privacy Directive and if you have, you’ve probably heard a few variations on what it is and what it means for you; the advertiser and you; the consumer.  Well, let’s take a look through the directive and hopefully give you a flavour of how it will shape your browsing experience in the UK.
In 2003 a European Directive was introduced which was all about the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector and in 2009 this was amended and now requires website owners to ensure that users visiting their website: (i) be given clear and comprehensive information about the use and purpose of cookies and similar technologies being dropped on their computer/tablet/mobile; and (ii) give their consent to such cookies being dropped. The aim of this directive is primarily to highlight to people where cookies are being used to increase the knowledge and awareness of them.

This directive had a deadline to be implemented into national law, and that was the 25th May 2011.  Now, you may notice that it’s actually 2012 already and not a great deal has changed just yet, but it’s starting to.  The new law was implemented into UK law on 25th May 2011, however, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), who are responsible for the enforcement of this new UK law, have given UK businesses 12 months (until 25 May 2012) to comply. This means, assuming companies are actively working toward compliance, they will not be penalised before this date.

So what is compliance going to look like?  Some sites have started doing this already; the ICO for example has put a small banner at the top of their page, requesting that you accept cookies from this site.  Everyone will be responsible for telling their users that the cookies are being used and why and of course, obtain their consent.  How they do this will not necessarily be the same; it could be a header banner, a footer banner, a pop up box or by settings or function led settings. For more guidance issued by the ICO on cookies and how to comply please visit the ICO’s website http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/the_guide/cookies.aspx.

What you should remember as a user is that there are different types of cookies, some are considered essential for the running of the site, and others can be related to things like offline analytics or online behavioural advertising.  When you are asked for your consent from website owners to drop cookies relating to online behavioural advertising, remember that it doesn’t mean you’re opting out of seeing adverts, you’re just opting out of adverts that are targeted to you through the use of cookies, so your internet session will be less tailored to you and in my personal opinion, will be a much less user friendly experience.

3 thoughts on “<span>The Clash of the Cookies</span>”

  1. A concise article that accurately sums up the new legislation well and provides pertinent information to the end user.

    Good Blog

  2. The legislation over cookies seems a bit over the top really, and its really going to turn the web industry on its head and probably be more annoying to the end user. Google Analytics uses cookies to track user behavior (to an extent) so there will be an impact in terms of what data is captured. Not only that but every site will have to ask users to accept cookies, so web designers and developers will have to create a nice, user friendly and accessible way to do this, its madness.

Comments are closed.