The legal requirements for websites using cookies are set out in the
Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 as amended by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive)
(Amendment) Regulations 2011
. The rules came into force in the UK on 26th May 2011 and, since 26th May 2012, after a one-year grace period, have been enforced by
the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”).
the common practices that have since become established.
Privacy online is of key importance. As internet users become increasingly aware of their rights and increasingly concerned that their data is being
commodified without their consent, it is not only important from a legal standpoint that website operators comply with privacy legislation, but from a
business one too.
Cookies themselves are relatively innocuous, and for both websites and users alike, a cookie can be a very useful tool. To name but a few uses, cookies are
used for storing personalisation settings; keeping users logged into sites; enabling e-commerce shopping baskets and transactions; providing useful
targeted advertising; and providing feedback on how users use a website, enabling the operator to make improvements.
All good stuff, right? If done properly, yes. Unfortunately, cookies and similar technologies have earned themselves a bit of a bad rap – particularly
those that track user behaviour, however useful they may ultimately be to users. Cookies can be seen as intrusive and as infringing upon users’ privacy.
Not only must website operators comply with the law, then, but they must also ensure that users understand and appreciate the role played by cookies in
providing them with a positive user experience.
Updated Cookie Law Guidance Notes
First published in 2012, as the ICO began enforcing the Regulations, our Guidance Notes have now been updated, taking into account the realities that have
set in over the four years since. Whereas many were initially concerned that complex technical arrangements would be necessary, many of which stood to
jeopardise carefully-designed user experiences, the reality has proven to be considerably simpler. Providing clear information to users is unquestionably
the priority, while gaining user consent has turned out to be rather simpler than many predicted.
Guidance Notes. In a user-friendly fashion, this new document explains what cookies are, the different types, what those types are used for, and which
specific cookies are used by your website. Additional guidance is also provided on cookie control.
Whether you were an early bird and have been complying since 2011, or a late riser that still has the matter of cookies on your to-do list, there’s no time
mechanisms. You may be in for a pleasant surprise – despite predictions of an excessively-onerous regime, the reality has turned out to be rather more
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute
legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific