Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:00

Cookies and the EU Cookie Laws

Almost all websites use cookies, or little data files, to store information on a user's web browser. Cookies may be stored on a user's computer or on a mobile device. Cookies can be useful for any website looking to personalize or enhance user site experience or increase the relevancy of an online advertisement to the user thereby increasing ad click-through rates and advertising revenues.

Because cookies have been used without any notice to website visitors, cookies have gotten a bad name among privacy advocates. In response to these concerns, the EU has enacted rules for websites hosted within EU member countries and websites intended for EU audiences. These rules require websites that use cookies (where not strictly necessary to enjoy the site) to inform users whether the site uses cookies, how the cookies are being used, and to obtain the users' consent for the cookie related activities. The intent of the cookie law is to provide users with more control over their personal information on the web. An example of a "strictly necessary" use would be when a customer is adding an item to a checkout card or proceeding to a checkout screen to close a purchase or transaction - also known as "session ID" cookies.

Most websites do not currently display any kind of cookie notice even though it is now law in the EU. Although a website may have a privacy policy, the UK Information Commissioner's office has issued guidance that a website owner should not rely on the privacy policy alone as notice because such policies may be hard to find or hard to understand for the average user. Additionally, depending on the nature of the information that a cookie collects (such as health information), explicit consent may be more prudent to ensure legal compliance. Finally, now that the provision is law, there are complaint and enforcement mechanisms in place for consumers to utilize against offending sites that use cookie information without the consent of the user.

Although the law has been interpreted to provide for additional exemptions and exceptions, like the "strictly necessary" exception, website owners would be hard pressed to keep track of every new opinion or wrinkle in interpretation. As such, a clear and explicit cookie notice and consent that a user sees one time, and (usually) forgets is the surest way to ensure legal compliance.

We can do that for you from just £50, which includes backing up your site, adding the notice, and backing it up once more.

Statistics show that a very small number of site users actually opt-out of allowing a site to use cookie information, so there's little evidence to suggest that legal compliance will result in decreased revenue for websites that rely on cookies extensively. In fact, the added transparency increases the levels of trust between website and user. Furthermore, once a user has provided consent for the uses of cookies, such consent may be then carried for as long as the user visits the website.

Contact ConCom Web Design if you have a Wordpress or Joomla site that doesnt already have a cookie notice as we can add one for just £50. We can also add this for any other site, though we cannot guarentee this can be done at a one of fee of £50, but it wont be much more
Published in Web Design Blog