from the blog.

cookies

What is a cookie, and how does this effect me?

The Cookie Law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

It was designed to protect online privacy, by making consumers aware of how information about them is collected and used online, and give them a choice to allow it or not.

It started as an EU Directive that was adopted by all EU countries in May 2011. The Directive gave individuals rights to refuse cookies that reduce their online privacy. Each country then updated its own laws to comply. In the UK this meant an update to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation

What are Cookies?

Cookies are similar to short term memory for the web.  They are stored in your browser and enable a site to ‘remember’ little bits of information between pages or visits.

They are widely used to make the web experience more personal, which is generally seen as a positive thing. However some cookies collect data across many websites, creating ‘behavioural profiles’ of people. These profiles can then be used to decide what content or adverts to show you. This use of cookies for targeting in particular is what the law was designed to highlight. By requiring websites to inform and obtain consent from visitors it aims to give web users more control over their online privacy.

What does this mean if I have a business?

If you own a website, you will need to make sure it complies with the law, and this usually means making some changes.

If you don’t comply you risk enforcement action from regulators, which in the UK means The Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO). In exceptional cases this can mean a fine.

However, non-compliance could also have other, perhaps more serious consequences than enforcement.  There is plenty of evidence that consumers avoid engaging with websites where they believe their privacy is at risk, and there is a general low levels of trust about web tracking by the use of cookies.

What do you need to do?

Compliance with the cookie law comes down to three basic steps:

  • Work out what cookies your site sets, and what they are used for, this can be done with a cookie audit. you need to know the purpose of your cookies, and who is in control of them.
  • Tell your visitors how you use cookies.
  • Obtain their consent and give them some control.

 

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