2nd May 2012

Is your cookie policy half baked? New law enforced from 28 May…

My colleague, Stewart Dunbar, reported in May 2011 about the changes to the law regarding ‘cookies’.  Cookies are files saved onto your hard drive when you visit websites to store information about how you use a website and to record your preferences and tastes, allowing advertisers to target you accordingly.

The intention of the reforms is to give users the ability to ‘opt-in’ to cookies, replacing the previous ‘opt-out’ system.  The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recognised that some time would be required for organisations to put their websites in order, but the enforcement deadline of 28 May is looming.

With little time remaining, recently published research from Truste reports that a user’s hard drive could face up to 140 cookies and related files in browsing a single website!  95% of organisations surveyed by KPMG were not compliant with the cookie law at the end of March.

Crucially for the organisations which were subjects of the Truste research, over two-thirds of the cookies identified belong to third parties (such as advertisers) rather than the site’s owner.

Protect your Business

The penalties for failure to comply with the rules could result in a fine of up to £500,000, not a cost that many businesses could take in their stride.

If you are concerned that your business’ website may not be compliant you should consider adopting a ‘Cookie Policy’ or reviewing your current one as well as making sure that you comply by:-

  • advising users that cookies are potentially in operation on your site;
  • explain what cookies do; and
  • obtain users’ consent to the storage of cookies on their hard drive.

There are different ways of achieving this outcome, and we can help you devise compliant practices.  If you would like professional advice about these matters please contact us at 01382 229222.

Kelly Craig
Solicitor – Corporate & Commercial

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