Eu Cookie Law

eu cookie law

The Eu 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. 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.

They are widely used to make the web experience more personal, which is generally seen as a positive thing. However some cookies collect data across many websites, creating ‘behavioural profiles’ of people. These profiles can then be used to decide what content or adverts to show you. This use of cookies for targeting in particular is what the law was designed to highlight. By requiring websites to inform and obtain consent from visitors it aims to give web users more control over their online privacy.

What cookies does a website store?

Ideally a webmaster will know this information, but with so many people relying on third-party tools to make websites, never really know what cookies might be storing.

The best way for finding out what is left behind is to clear all cookies then use your site, visit each page and complete each action, once you have done this view your cookie information – how you view this information will depend entirely on the web browser you are using.

And What it Means For  website owners?

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. In exceptional cases this can mean a fine.

However, non-compliance could also have other, perhaps more serious consequences than enforcement.

There is plenty of evidence that consumers avoid engaging with websites where they believe their privacy is at risk, and there is a general low level of trust about web tracking by the use of cookies.

You should classify your cookies into four categories:

  • Essential – Required for your website to function, for example to mark someone as being logged in.
  • Non-Essential but harmless – Not essential to core functionality but doesn’t get used for tracking a user.
  • Fairly Intrusive – Used to track people but do not provide personally identifiable information, for example Google’s Analytics.
  • Very Intrusive – Used to track people and provide personally identifiable information.

So, 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.

Tell your visitors how you use cookies. Obtain their consent, such as by using Optanon, and give them some control.

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