The Cookie Law Explained
The Cookie Law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
It was designed to protect online privacy, by making consumers aware of how information about them is collected and used online, and give them a choice to allow it or not.
It started as an EU Directive that was adopted by all EU countries in May 2011. Each country then updated its own laws to comply. In the UK this meant an update to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
All websites owned in the EU or targeted towards EU citizens, are now expected to comply with the law.
Why Cookie Law?
There are other technologies, like Flash and HTML5 Local Storage that do similar things, and these are also covered by the legislation, but as cookies are the most common technology in use, it has become known as the Cookie Law.
What it Means For Business
If you own a website, you will need to make sure it complies with the law, and this usually means making some changes.
If you don't comply you risk enforcement action from regulators, which in the UK means The Information Commissioners' Office (ICO). In exceptional cases this can mean a fine.
What You Should Do
Compliance with the cookie law comes down to three basic steps:
- Work out what cookies your site sets, and what they are used for, with a cookie audit
- Obtain their consent, such as by using Optanon, and give them some control.
What are Cookies Anyway?
Cookies are a kind of short term memory for the web. They are stored in your browser and enable a site to 'remember' little bits of information between pages or visits.
To find out lots more about cookies in general and the different types, take a look at Cookiepedia - an information resource all about cookies.