Friday, 24 August 2012

New EU Website Cookie Law, what's this all about

Cookies are small files which are stored on your computer after you visit a website.  These files contain a small amount of data about your time on the website which is then carried over to your next visit to customise your experience. 

Often user's actions are stored as cookies without the user's consent; however previously website's were able to argue that when visitors use a website they give their implied consent.  In response to this, you may have noticed that websites have started asking for permission to use and store your cookies?  Here are a summary of the new laws and regulations below. 

As of May 2012 Information Commissioners Office (ICO) have set out the changes in the law regarding cookies, so when we're building e-commerce and CMS websites, we must be careful to consider these rules:
·         Implied consent can be used by websites however website users must understand that their actions will result in cookie files being stored. 
·         Websites must make it obvious that cookies are being stored without having to rely on user's reading the privacy policy.
·         When websites are collecting  personal sensitive data, they must gain explicit consent from the user. 

According to EU regulation, cookies or any other files stored on the user's terminal equipment (Including mobile websites created for mobile devices),  must not be used by service providers unless:
·         The user is informed about what the cookies are to be used for and how it will be stored.
·         The user has given their consent for the cookies to be stored and used.

The EU state that some websites do not need consent in certain circumstance if the data is used for a sole purpose e.g. Search queries that go into search engines.

In compliance with UK law and the Data Protection Act 1998, if cookies process personal data service providers must only store data which is needed and used for its purpose.  Therefore like traditional bricks and mortar businesses storing information about you, websites must now only store and keep necessary information with your consent. 

We hope you find this useful, Media Orb team

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