Posted on Friday 8th June 2012 1:14
As some of these tracking cookies can hold an individual user’s browsing history for quite a long time, their use has raised privacy concerns which the European Union has sought to address with an “e-privacy directive”. The UK version of this came into force at the end of May, and demands that all sites must seek “informed consent” from visitors before saving cookies on their machine or face a fine of up to £500,000 from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
Yet despite the cookie law having been on the books for a year (it was passed by Parliament in 2011), compliance on this important issue remains spotty. Even the government was forced to admit that not all of its websites will comply with the regulation, and there are no definitive figures available that tell us how many of the millions of UK websites are obeying the law.
It’s unexpected discoveries like this that make it critical for website owners to audit and then document how cookies are used on their sites, as it’s only by doing that that you can work out whether you’re okay to carry on as normal or seek informed consent from visitors.
The ICO may be negotiating rather than prosecuting now, but this is one area where ignorance certainly isn’t bliss.