The Changing Face of Cookie Law in the UK Posted by: Lynn on 27/02/2013

The changing face of cookie law in the UK image

Most websites use cookies to make your visit to their website easier and to improve the quality of your user experience: by enabling cookies, user's preferences, information and general statistics can be stored.

These statistics are things such as how many people have visited the website, what type of browser/technology they were using, as well as how long they spent on the site. As a business, utilising cookies for your website is usually an incredibly smart move and can improve business analysis, which ultimately can only be a good thing.

The law which applies to how you use cookies and similar technologies for storing information on a user’s equipment such as their computer or mobile device changed in 2009, and since then there have been several changes, amends and general slapped wrists for getting hands stuck in the proverbial cookie jar. As a business looking to create or upgrade a digital solution what are the ins and outs you need to know about how the EU cookie law will affect your digital solutions?

At Screenmedia, we’re keen to keep on top of these sorts of things, so we have compiled a list of what you need to know and how things have changed since the cookie law was first introduced:

  • The EU cookie law was introduced in 2009, however in 2010 the government took a year-long pause on enforcement after an industry led campaign.
  • In May 2012 the law was reintroduced and required all websites to obtain consent from UK and EU visitors for the use of cookies and other tracking technologies.
  • In 2013 the Information Commissioner’s Office announced that they will stop asking users for permission to set cookies on their own website, and instead for websites to simply tell users cookies are enabled.

So, previously the law meant that if your website saved any cookies to your viewers computers, you had to ask permission to do so, or at least tell them that cookies were being set and what they were used for. However, now the law is less explicit about the requirements, stating simply that the downgrade in the law is due to “many more people are [now] aware of cookies”. This in turn means that from 2013, it is no longer a requirement to request permission from a user to use cookies, simply to state that you are.

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