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The EU Cookie Law: What It Means for Your Website

November 5, 2012 Chris Fairey

In May 2012, the 12-month grace-period the Information Commissioner’s Office imposed before they would begin taking action against websites for non-compliance with the new EU Privacy Directive expired.

6 months later (November 2012, as I am writing this), there are still a large number of websites that are failing to inform visitors about their use of cookies, and are therefore not complying with the new law.

What Do I Need Consent For?

According to the guidance from the ICO, you need consent for cookies that can be used to track user activity, and ones set by third-parties (e.g. the cookies used by services such as Google Analytics  to track the pages people visit on your website).

You do not however need consent for cookies that are essential to the operation of your website (e.g. cookies used to store the state of a shopping basket, that typically expire once a user closes their browser).

How Can I Inform My Visitors?

The simplest method of acquiring consent for the use of cookies, and providing visitors with information about what they are used for is to place a small banner at the top of the page, which tells visitors that your site uses cookies, and what those cookies tell you. You can even use this banner to give instructions on how to disable cookies, if your visitors choose to.

If you are using one of the popular Content Management Systems, chances are there are a collection of plug-ins that can pop up banners on your site telling visitors about the cookies you use, and some of them even go as far as deleting them should a user not agree to their presence.

I'm Not Sure What Kinds of Cookies We Use

If you're not sure what cookies are in use on your website, it may be worth investing in our Cookie Audit service, where we will analyse your website and detail the types and origins of all the cookies it uses, and provide you information about how to reduce the number of third-party/tracking cookies you use, as well as information on methods you can implement to achieve compliance, tailored to your specific environment.

If this sounds like something you would like to invest in, please Contact Us today, including the address of your website, and we will get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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