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17 April 2012

Business

Three Checks to Make Sure You’re Cookie Law Compliant

As a result of the ePrivacy Directive, from 26th May, any website operating in the UK will need to inform its users when their online browsing activity is tracked by cookies. What’s more, each user must be asked for consent to collect this information. And the penalty for failing to comply with the new legislation? A hefty £500,000- ouch!

The move by the Information Commissioner has left many businesses bewildered and unsure about how to tackle the issue. Here, we explain what cookies do, and what steps you need to take to ensure your site remains compliant.

What are cookies?cookie law compliance

Cookies track information relating to a user’s browsing behaviour. They were created initially as a way of allowing visitors to shop online and store their selected items as they moved around the website. Today, they are predominantly used for capturing data relating to the way visitors navigate, as well as for remembering user-inputted information so that when the visitor returns to the site, it recalls data such as username and passwords for quicker browsing.

Achieving Cookie Law Compliance

There’s word on the street that the new rules may not actually come into effect as it could potentially shut down a large part of the web overnight, including the colossal YouTube and its parent Google. The EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, is reported to have explained that the rules do afford some room for maneuver, “…I have said on several occasions that there is a sliding scale of intrusiveness which should inform the level of effort you go to.” In any case, until we know for certain, here are our 3 tips for making sure your site complies with the new cookie laws.

  • Use a Dialogue Box: Sites can quite easily set up a dialogue box to request permission from visitors to track their activity. The upside to this is that every user will be offered the choice to accept or decline. The downside is it will interrupt the user experience and potentially push people away, increasing bounce rates.
  • Warning Bar: Sites can include a warning bar at the top of the screen, which will alert visitors to the fact that cookies are being used to track behaviour. Proceeding to navigate around the rest of the website would be deemed as consent by the user.
  • Status Bar: Similar to the warning bar, the status bar can be placed at the top or bottom of the screen and asks users to confirm that they consent to cookies being used.

For more information on how the changes could affect you, read the ICO’s Cookies Regulations here.

If you’re unsure about how you stand with the cookie law, we can help. Talk to us on Facebook or Google+.

By Adam Cowlishaw

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