Posted: Wednesday, 1 June 2011 @ 16:50
) about the new rules affecting website owners which came into force on 26th May 2011. Since writing the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has provided a little more clarity about how the new rules will be policed.
The good news is that organisations and businesses which run websites aimed at UK consumers will be given up to 12 months to get their house in order before enforcement of the new EU cookies law begins. As a brief reminder, the main effect of the new rules is that (with one narrow exception) if you are a website owner you will need consent from a user
of your site to store a cookie on their computer.
The ICO recognised that there had not been much time between the publication of the new rules and the date they came into force for website owners to comply – that was certainly true! So their sensible approach is to be welcomed. Should you follow the ICO lead?
It’s interesting to see how the ICO has gone about complying. It says it is complying by having a header bar on its website
which invites users to accept cookies, but that header also states that a cookie (which it indicates is essential for part of the website to operate) has already been set. A separate statement on the ICO website states that this is a session cookie which is deleted when a user leaves the site. I’m still trying to get my head around whether they really have complied since you can continue to navigate their site without ticking the box to accept cookies!
The ICO says it would not necessarily expect other websites to do the same, as each site is different, and that it will supplement the recent guidelines to website owners as new examples come in. What is stressed by the ICO is that the twelve month timescale to comply is not an invitation to website owners to do nothing – those who choose to do nothing will have that lack of action taken into account when enforcement begins from May 2012. Once the ICO starts enforcement website owners could face fines of up to £500,000 for non-compliance, so take advantage of the next twelve months to prepare.
At Cousins Business Law we are following the ICO guidance by carrying out an audit of our site and looking at how we can comply with the new rules whilst not downgrading the experience of our visitor, not easy I have to admit. We remain hopeful that the promised efforts by the government to work with the main browser providers will mean a technical solution can be found.
For more information on this or your legal issues relating to your website contact Sue Mann Commercial Solicitor, Birmingham
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
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