Website owners face tougher cookie rules
Website owners will be breaking the law this Thursday if they are using cookies – the small files placed in a visitor’s browser to track their online viewing– without having obtained their users’ ‘explicit consent'.
From May 26th, all British organisations and businesses, regardless of size, will legally have to ask for permission to store and retrieve information on users’ computers or other browsing devices.
an update to the European directive on which those rules were based, the new
requirement is, basically and due to privacy concerns; that cookies can only be
placed on devices “where the user or subscriber has given their consent.”
Official guidance from the Information Commissioner adds: “Gaining consent will, in many cases, be a challenge.
“However, it is important to remember that these rules give you the opportunity to check how well you explain how your web pages work to the people who visit them.
“Complying with the new rules will allow you to be confident that your users have a better and clearer understanding of what you do and how you do it.”
The government, which is reportedly working on a browser-based solution, says there should be a “phased approach” to the implementation of the changes - reassuring given that fines for non-compliance could rang up to £500,000.
Due to issue separate guidance on enforcing the rule-changes, the ICO reflected in a message to website owners: “The key point is that you cannot ignore these rules.”
In a guidance section entitled, ‘So what do I need to do now?’ the commissioner added: “We advise you to now take the following steps:
Reading between the lines of the ICO guidance, and according to media reports, the subtext is that as long as website owners are working towards compliance they should not be punished.
22nd May 2011