Basically, it states that website owners must get their users’ consent (via an opt-in basis) to be able to use non-essential cookies to track their data.
If you’re unsure what a cookie is, it’s a small text file that stores data about website users. An example would be Google Analytics, which provides anonymous tracking data about users.
(In case you were wondering, essential cookies are those used to remember the goods you’re buying when you reach checkout, those used in internet banking and those that help pages load quickly.)
90% of UK website owners are ignoring the new legislation
That’s right, according to a recent article in Business Matters, as many as 90% of UK website owners are currently ignoring the new legislation.
The actual ruling came into force in May 2011, but British website owners were given 12 months in which to comply with the legislation.
The most common of the non-essential cookies used by UK businesses is Google Analytics. Although the legislation does allow for those websites that work on ‘implied consent’ where users have been made aware of revised privacy policies, this is still a bit of a grey area, so it is best to use a pop up to explicitly gain the users consent.
The cost of non-compliance
The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) has the power to fine website owners £500,000 if they don’t comply – that’s going to make a huge dent in anyone’s wallet.
But, they don’t have a stealth team out and about tracking down miscreants.
In fact, the ICO have confirmed that even though they are currently receiving complaints from users of UK websites that aren’t complying, in the first instance they will work with the site owners to improve their cookie policies rather than enforcing the rather hefty fine.
What you should be doing now
If you are a UK website owner and you haven’t put any compliance measures in place yet, we suggest that you at least show you are moving towards compliance, just in case the ICO come knocking.
Over to you
What are your thoughts about the cookie directive?
What actions have you taken to make sure your website complies?
Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.
Sally Ormond – Copywriter & Managing Director of Briar Copywriting Ltd