Cookie law set to come into force
Published: 26th May 2012 01:22:00
Thousands of UK websites are expected to be in breach of a law that dictates what they can log about visitors.
European laws that define what details sites can record in text files called cookies come into force on 26 May.
Cookies are widely used to customise what repeat visitors see on a site and by advertisers to track users online.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it would offer help to non-compliant sites rather than take legal action against them.
The regulations say websites must get "informed consent" from users before they record any detailed information in the cookies they store on visitors' computers.
Among websites that have complied with the law, getting consent has involved a pop-up box that explains the changes. Users are then asked to click to consent to having information recorded and told what will happen if they refuse.
UK firms have had 12 months to prepare for the change and the ICO has spent much of that time reminding businesses about their obligations.
The ICO has also updated its policy to allow organisations to use "implied consent" to comply. This means users do not have to make an explicit choice. Instead, their continued use of a site would be taken to mean they are happy for information to be gathered.
However, it was a "concern" for the ICO that so many sites were not yet compliant, said Dave Evans, group manager at the ICO who has led its work on cookies in the last 18 months. However, he added, it was not necessarily easy for companies to comply with the laws because of the amount of work it involved.
On busy sites, he said, an audit of current cookie practices could take time because of the sheer number of cookie files they regularly issue, monitor and update.
Mr Evans said the ICO was expecting sites that were not compliant to be able to demonstrate what work they had done in the last year to get ready.
Fines for non-compliance were unlikely to be levied, he said, because there was little risk that a non-compliant site would cause a serious breach of data protection laws that was likely to cause substantial damage and distress to a user.
It was planning to use formal undertakings or enforcement notices to make sites take action, he said.
"Those are setting out the steps we think they need to take in order to become compliant and when we expect them to be taking those steps," he said. "If they comply with one of those notices or sign one of those undertakings they are committing to doing this properly and that's the main point."
As well as advising firms, the ICO has also issued guidance to the public that explains what cookies are, how to change cookie settings and how to complain if they are worried about a site's policy.
At 08:59:40 in HeadlinesThe Sri Lankan authorities have ordered the deportation of a British tourist because she had a Buddha tattoo on her arm. Here are some other ways tattoos can get you into trouble, writes Vanessa Barford.
At 08:58:07 in HeadlinesArmed pirates have raided a Japanese oil tanker sailing in the Malacca Straits and abducted three crew members, officials in Malaysia say.
At 08:58:04 in EnglandA gunman is being hunted in Dorset after attempting to rob a bookmakers.
At 08:50:32 in SportSir Alex Ferguson will play a key role in selecting David Moyes's replacement as Manchester United manager.
At 08:46:39 in EnglandA husband and wife have appeared in court to deny charges relating to the killing of a traveller at his caravan in Hertfordshire.
At 08:38:39 in EnglandPensioners in Sussex donated £24,000 of their heating allowance to charity over the course of the winter.
At 08:18:50 in Northern IrelandFlybe is to offer flights from London after signing a five-year deal with London City Airport.
At 08:17:29 in SportAlan McManus toppled former world champion John Higgins then hit out at young players who spend too much time on the internet to stay at the top.
At 08:16:39 in Northern IrelandPolice have been called to an estate in Cork following a dispute over the installation of water meters.
At 08:01:49 in BusinessClothing retailer Primark is to open its first US stores, beginning with a 70,000 sq-ft shop in Boston in Massachusetts.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Cookie law set to come into force [Online] (Updated 26th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1431038/Cookie-law-set-to-come-into-force [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Legendary rock group Led Zeppelin have released two previously unheard recordings ahead of the reissue of the band's first three albums in June.
A meeting to determine how the internet should be governed gets underway in Sao Paulo, Brazil later.
A project telling the story behind the names on Flintshire's war memorials has received lottery funding.
Armed pirates have raided a Japanese oil tanker sailing in the Malacca Straits and abducted three crew members, officials in Malaysia say.
A gunman is being hunted in Dorset after attempting to rob a bookmakers.
Eight major renewable energy projects, expected to support 8,500 jobs, have been given government approval.