eu_cookie_law

EU Cookie Law and E-commerce

 

On May 26th 2012 the EU Cookie Law will come into effect in the UK. This law will require website owners to significantly alter how their site operates as well as bringing about massive changes to internet user’s browsing and online shopping experiences. Whilst full details of the EU Directive can be found here, this post aims to shred a little light on what the law means for UK e-commerce companies.

 What are Cookies?

To understand the law we first need to know what cookies are. Cookies are small files that almost all websites use as a kind of memory. Cookies are stored in the user’s browser and enable a site to remember lots of little bits of information about how we use the site. On the whole cookies make the user’s web experience easier by automatically remembering your log in details or remembering settings like text size. However, cookies can also be used to track and collect data about which sites you have visited. Advertisers can then use this information to target you with ads based on the sites you have visited.

 What is the Purpose of the EU Cookie Law?

It is the use of these ‘tracking cookies’ that the EU Cookie Law aims to tackle. The EU Cookie Law aims to do this by insisting that websites inform and obtain explicit consent for the use of cookies in order to give web users a greater degree of control over their online privacy. Failure to adhere to the new law could have serious ramifications as the body responsible for administering the law; the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has been given the power to fine companies up to £500k for failing to comply.

 What does the Law Mean for Website Owners?

Put simply, most EU websites will have to change or risk breaking the law. Presently over 92% of all websites use cookies, these websites will either have to stop using cookies altogether or start asking for permission to use them. Although the law will affect the vast majority of cookies, cookies deemed to be “strictly necessary for a service requested by a user” such as those used to remember that something has been added to a shopping basket will be exempt.

 What Will Companies Need To Do?

Although the law may seem like a nuisance, burying your head in the sand will not make it go away. The ICO’s guide lines offer three main points of advice to companies looking to get cookie legal.

• Find out what cookies you are using on your site

• Work out which cookies you need to obtain consent for

• Build a process of obtaining content on your website.

Example of "Cookie Opt In" Option from ICO Website

If you feel like you need guidance and advice on how best to prepare your company for the upcoming cookie law changes, feel free to call us at Yoma. Our experts will be able to ensure that your site complies with the law change in a way that maintains your site’s functionality as much as possible.