You may have heard that the EU has changed the law so that website owners must publish information about ‘cookies’.

If you’re not sure what this new law is about, basically, all websites use ‘cookies’ to gather information about users. Cookies are pieces of personal data stored when users browse the web, sometimes to power advertising. To protect people’s privacy, the EU wants to make all web owners publish information about this. The downside is that this would mean pop-ups appearing all over the internet (!)

The law changed on 26 May. However there are thousands of sites which still don’t comply.

Confused?

You’re not the only one – the UK government doesn’t seem to know what to think either. It has been issuing conflicting advice on this since 2009, with the latest information being released just hours before the changes came into force.

So What’s the Latest?

The government has now decided that site owners only have to ensure ‘implied consent’ is given by visitors. Various websites have interpreted this in different ways:

The Financial Times is at the more extreme end of the market – this is from their site:

“FT Cookie Policy
We have published a new cookie policy. It explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our cookie policy.
If you’d like to disable cookies on this device, please view our information pages on ‘How to manage cookies’. Please be aware that parts of the site will not function correctly if you disable cookies.
By closing this message, you consent to our use of cookies on this device in accordance with our cookie policy unless you have disabled them.”

This comes in the form of a pop-up, which would require design and development studio time: not ideal. www.ft.com

At the other end of the scale, John Lewis has put a link to its ‘Security and privacy’ page in its header, and renamed it ‘Privacy and cookies’. There is nothing in the text which lets visitors know that their consent is given by them using the website. www.johnlewis.com

Government websites direct.gov.uk, dh.gov.uk, education.gov.uk, etc, do not explicitly tell visitors that to stay on the page, is to grant permission for cookies to be collected.

In the middle, the BBC has a small pop-up on its site which informs users that they give permission for the site to gather cookies by remaining on the page. If they accept they can click to make the pop-up go away, but there is no option to click if they do not agree. The BBC also links to information about cookies gathered by the site. www.bbc.co.uk

Is My Site Compliant?

Does your site display information about cookies? if not, don’t panic – the government hasn’t started taking enforcement action yet, and we can help you make the necessary changes before anyone notices – if you want us to. We don’t believe that this law will be strictly policed or enforced.

However if you would like Zeta’s help to make sure your site is compliant, then we can help you.

What’s the Worst that can Happen?

The maximum penalty is £500,000 – however the government has said it will only do this in extreme cases and would rather work with site owners to make sure they comply.

If you have any concerns or would like to talk to someone about the cookie law and what it means for your site, please give us a call – 01202 237137.

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