cookie law ukYou may have noticed a huge amount of annoying pop ups on websites that you have visited lately. This is due to the fact that the deadline for complying with the ICO cookie law in the UK was 25th May 2012. The law actually came into effect 12 months ago but the ICO granted a year in order that website owners may have their web design altered to accomodate the changes.

Cookies are most of the time innocent and don’t identify the user. They are used to remember what is in a shopping cart or used to suggest products based on previous searches etc. Most website owners use them in conjunction with Google Analytics in order that they can track their statistics, visitors and adword campaigns.

At a time when business is hard enough the last thing any of us wants to do is to panic our prospective customers by presenting them with a pop up telling them that we are tracking them. Lets be honest, a huge percentage of internet users have no idea what cookies are. In addition the general public are quite nervous when online as they receive emails from people in huts pretending to be their bank manager, To the majority of the public the internet is a scary place full of bandits and n’er do gooders. The idea of having to sound alarm bells then by flashing up a pop up window informing them about cookies and privacy stinks to be honest. Unless you own a brand name website familiar to and trusted by the majority of the British public then the danger of  your jittery and wary customer misinterpreting your popup as a signal that you are planning on emptying their bank account and spying on them in the shower is very real.

Thankfully, hours before the deadline a revised guideline was issued by the ICO. In laymans terms this states that the website owner can assume implied consent by the user. I have taken this to read that as long as you  have a cookie policy somewhere on your website explaining your use of cookies, how to turn them off on your browser etc and also a statement that reads something like

“your use of this website indicates your agreement with the terms of this Policy. If you do not agree with this Policy, please do not use this site” 

then you’re covered. I’ve watched with interest big name websites who have spent thousands employing web designers to ensure compliance. Interestingly I found that some of the supermarkets were taking this “implied consent” approach.

The ICO has stated that no fines will be handed out as long as there is evidence that a company or organisation has made adequate changes to their website or can demonstrate that they are working towards compliance.

Should you need any help becoming compliant then please click the black contact button on the right of the screen.