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Website Cookies

Websites are obliged to get consent from users for any non-essential "cookies". (See explanation of "cookies" below). This issue is somewhat technical, but it is designed to enhance privacy and supplement data protection laws.

What are "cookies"?

When you visit many websites, a small file (a "cookie") is automatically stored on your computer, via your browser. It can have a variety of functions, some being needed to provide functionality of the website, particularly for an e-commerce site with a shopping basket. However, many cookies are either used to collect statistics on the behaviour of visitors (known as analytics), and others are used to facilitate targeted advertising. 

What is the cookie law?

The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 require website owners to gain consent from users before using non-essential cookies (ie. those used for analytics or advertising). In practice, this is pretty tricky because, by visiting a website which uses cookies, website users will already be exposed to the cookies. Technically, it’s pretty much impossible to turn off cookies for specific users - as doing so would require the use of cookies themselves! But you can rely on “implied consent” so that if you warn a user that cookies exist on your website, by continuing to use it they are consenting to their use. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which enforces the cookie law in the UK, can impose fines of up to £500,000 on companies which fail to comply with the rules.

So how do I implement the cookie law on my website?

There is no set way of gaining consent for using cookies. Many websites use subtle banners or icons stating that, by continuing to use the website, you automatically give (implied) consent for the use of cookies.

However, you should also provide instructions (via a relevant cookies policy which may also detail how the cookies are being used) on how the user can turn off cookies within their computer browser if they wish to browse your site without use of cookies. We have a range of up-to-date website cookies policies which can be used by your business and adapted to your needs. These can be downloaded from our Business Documents Folder. Click on the link below for further information.

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