The Cookie crumbles in 30 Days - will you face a £500k fine?
By Mike Kneller, Technical Director at bss
In approximately a month (25 May 2012), European
legislation on web privacy will impact over three million British
businesses. The "Cookie law" or the the Directive on Privacy and
Electronic Communications, will require all websites that use
Cookies to seek consent from visitors to the site. The Information
Commissioner's Office (ICO) has been given powers to
fine website owners up to
£500,000 for serious breaches in the law and could approach any
business running a website and ask them to demonstrate how they
The only cookies that are exempt are those "strictly
necessary for a service", such as the cookies used by Amazon or
Expedia for their shopping functionality. Even these sites will
to gather management information.
Most businesses are either unaware of this directive or
are taking a 'wait and see' approach hoping that the odds of being
prosecuted first out of over three million businesses are slim. The
fact is if your site uses Google Analytics to track visitors, then
you are impacted by this law.
Rather than burying your head in the sand, it is time to
start preparing. The
guidelines from the ICO are
good place to start. Speak to your web developers to find out what
type of cookies your site uses and what solution they recommend to
There is certain to be a conflict between the desire to
collect as much information as possible from visitors to a site and
not deterring people away. In order to achieve true transparency,
all websites should be designed with the user's privacy top of
mind. In the current economic situation businesses can ill afford a
£500k fine. So, don't be a test case, take action now.