Website owners are warned by Information Commissioner about lack of progress in compliance

Posted: Wednesday, 4 January 2012 @ 10:34

Whilst most of us were preparing for the Christmas and New Year festivities, the Information Commissioner issued his half term report about the preparations for complying with the cookie regulations which came into force last year. Details of those new regulations were given in my blogs at the time - there are links to them below if you’d like a recap. Basically, if your website uses cookies you now not only need to give details, but you also need consent from visitors to the site for most cookies as well as a means of opting out.

In keeping with the chiding tone of the report, the Information Commissioner himself says that the report can be summed up by the schoolteacher’s favourite clichés: “could do better” and “must try harder”. It seems that at present he doesn’t think that there are many ‘star pupils’ who are getting it right with their websites. He accepts that compliance is not easy to achieve, but what seems to concern him more is that too many website owners still appear not to be doing anything at all.

There is also a defensive element to the report resulting no doubt in part from criticism levelled at the perceived inadequacy of some of the advice given in the original guidance. The Commissioner points out for example that it is compliance with the law itself, not the ICO’s advice, which presented the biggest challenge - presumably a subtle reference to the fact that the regulations were introduced to comply with an EU Directive, rather than originating in the UK.

The Commissioner issued his report at the same time as the ICO published an updated version of its guidance on compliance with the regulations. That guidance has now tripled in size. The Commissioner indicates that the ICO has tried to answer many of the questions that have been asked over the last six months and that the main revisions relate to the following areas: what is “strictly necessary”, analytics cookies, the ICO’s regulatory priorities, examples of what works, details of what a cookie audit looks like.

If, like many other website owners, you might have not yet taken any steps towards achieving compliance, I will share with you another schoolteacher-type statement from the Commissioner’s report by way of indication as to the approach likely to be taken by the ICO: “ assured that if we get complaints or have concerns then we will be checking your site and we will take the necessary steps to ensure that you do work towards compliance.”

I would recommend that you heed the Information Commissioner's warning and start preparing now if your website does not yet comply with the regulations. I will follow up shortly with more details from the ICO’s updated guidance. In the meantime, if you would like any further information please contact me.

Sue Mann

0845 003 5639

Previous blogs on this topic which you may wish to look at are:

New rules on the use of cookies
Time to comply with the new rules on the use of cookies

For free advice on this topic please call us on 0845 003 5639.

Blog by Sue Mann
Sue is an experienced commercial solicitor based in Birmingham from where she helps businesses all over the country advising on, drafting, and reviewing business contracts and commercial agreements. View profile
Call Sue on +44 (0)121 246 4437 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.


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