The EU Cookie Legislation - Are You Ready?

EU Cookie Legislation

Hopefully by now you will all have heard of the new cookie legislation that comes into force on 26th May 2012. This law was introduced 12 months ago in order to give website users a choice about how any information they give will be used.

More information about the law can be found here

I haven’t heard about this law, what does it mean?

Basically, on May 26th 2011 a new EU originated law came into effect that requires website owners to make users aware of what cookies are being used when using their website and to obtain consent where appropriate based on the cookies used. This Cookie Law is an amended privacy legislation that requires websites to obtain informed consent from visitors before they can store or retrieve any information on a computer or any other web connected device.

As well as reading the guidelines above we recommend watching this video ‘The stupid EU cookie law in a 2½ minutes’

So what are cookies? And how are they used?

Essentially a cookie is a technology for remembering information between webpages. Because of cookies, your web browser can remember you are logged in, or have visited a site before, or what your personal preferences are.

In reality, a cookie is a small text file which is stored by the user’s browser. The cookie only contains data, not code, so it can’t contain a virus or spyware. This doesn’t mean that all cookies are harmless in intent, but they can only ever store information.

Cookies used on websites can be put into four main categories;

Category 1 – Strictly necessary cookies
These are cookies that are essential to the normal functioning of a website such as a shopping cart. These cookies are used for services that the end-user has asked for, i.e. searching a shop or adding items to a cart.

Category 2 – Performance cookies
These cookies collect information about how a visitor uses a website, for example pages views, error messages etc. They could also be used for the sending of an enquiry from a website page. They do not collect any personal information and are only used to improve the website performance.

Category 3 – Functionality cookies
These cookies are designed to allow the website to save the information about choices the end user makes; for example, logging in they will remember a username, or a country. They are also used for remembering search preferences, or storing your location so as to allow the website to deliver more targeted and relevant information. These cookies are not used to track your browsing activity on other websites.

Category 4 – Personalised, Targeting or advertising cookies
These cookies are used to deliver and track adverts across the advertising networks. They will pass information about browsing habits and will remembers which websites and adverts have been viewed and when. These cookies do save information about your browsing habits so as to enable more targeted advertising.

For more information or a full breakdown please download and read the ICC UK Cookie guide

So what do I need to do to comply with the law?

Well, depending on the types of cookies used on your website there are different rules and requirements. We have tried to detail these below;

Category 1 – Strictly necessary cookies
No consent is required therefore no action is essentially need. However, we would recommend that you still detail the cookies and there usage within your website on a ‘terms of use’ webpage as we recommend below.

Category 2 – Performance cookies
Consent can be sought by either adding a note to your terms and conditions, or by popping up a message when a user changes a setting.

Category 3 – Functionality cookies
Consent can be sought by popping up a message to the user when an option is selected or changed.

Category 4 – Personalised, Targeting or advertising cookies
There must be clear and informed consent to operate these types of cookies. This would be done using a popup box or an accordion style dropdown to ask the user to opt in to allow cookies to be used on your website. This would qualify as consent and without the users’ consent any such cookies will need to be disabled from your website.

So how is my website affected and what should I do about it?

As you have had your websites built by Amasci Creative Limited you would probably not know what cookies, if any are being used on your website. In most cases a terms of use or terms and conditions page, detailing what cookies are used and how will suffice. An example of this can be seen here;

To have a similar page added to your website, we will charge a one-off fee of £50.00+VAT. If you prefer to make adjustments to the content/text or have this presented differently, please feel free to contact us via email and we can discuss your requirements.

Finally, should I start to panic?

In a word no! However, you must start and do something about this law, as this law is real and the ICO will pursue companies seen to be doing nothing about it!

Please Note: This advice is not give by legal professionals, although we have researched and read many guidelines and rules/advice regarding these legislations, these solutions are based on our interpretations of the ICO guidelines. Please feel free to read the guidelines yourself, and if you are still unsure if you comply please seek third party advice. This eShot should not be taken as legal advice.

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