The EU Cookie Law: A Guide to Compliance Posted by: Kenny S on 10/08/2012

EU Cookie Law

With the pending deadline of the EU cookie law looming at the end of May this year, it was no surprise that our client The Law Society of Scotland were quick off the mark to react to the new legislation.

Earlier this year, we worked with The Law Society of Scotland to ensure their website was compliant before the deadline came into effect on 26th May. If they weren't going to set the example, then who was?

So what is the EU cookie law?

In 2009, the government announced a new piece of online privacy legislation intended to give web users greater control over their data, i.e. who knows what about them and how that information is used. The EU cookie law, as it is commonly known, states that all websites must obtain consent from visitors to their website before they can use most cookies and similar technologies for storing information on a user's computer or mobile device.

The purpose of the legislation is to help protect online privacy by firstly making web users more aware of how websites collect information about them, and then offering them the option to choose whether or not they want to share this information by accepting or rejecting the use of Cookies.

Faced with mass non-compliance from organisations, the UK government deferred the adoption until 26th May 2012 to give companies time to respond to the legislation. This deadline has now passed.

What does this mean for you?

According to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the organisation responsible for regulating the law:

"A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is downloaded on to your computer when you visit a website. Cookies are used by many websites and can do a number of things eg remembering your preferences, recording what you have put in your shopping basket, and counting the number of people looking at a website."

This means that any website, no matter the size, is likely to use Cookies (or similar technologies) in some form or another. Whether you are using Google Analytics to track visitor behaviour, remembering usernames and passwords for your member log in area, or storing user preferences as they interact with various elements of your site, you must ask web visitors for their consent before you can install most of these Cookies.

If you don't make changes to your site to comply with this law, you risk enforcement action from the ICO, which in the most severe cases can include fines of up to half a million pounds.

How can you get compliant?

There are 4 steps to ensuring your site is compliant:

  1. Conduct a full audit of your site to discover what cookies are used on your website
  2. Carry out an analysis of these Cookies to find out what they are used for and whether they require consent or not (as always, there are a couple of exemptions to the law)
  3. Update the privacy policy page of your website to outline what Cookies are used on your website and their purpose
  4. Set up and add a technical "consent notice" to your website which is presented to the user upon arrival at your site. 

At Screenmedia, we have been working hard behind the scenes to understand the law in detail and create the most appropriate solution for each of our clients. Therefore, if you would like to discuss how Screenmedia can help you ensure your website is complaint with the EU cookie Law, then why not get in touch on 0141 552 3112 or email lynn@screenmedia.co.uk


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