The New EU Cookie Law – What Does It Mean?
You may have heard in the news that the EU Cookie Law came into effect on the 26th May 2012; but what exactly is this new law and how will it affect both the public and website owners?
The law itself was brought into play last year by the ICO (the Information Commissioner’s Office) and website owners have been given until the 26th May 2012 to get their websites to comply with the rules set out; failure to do so has a hefty fine attached.Can cookies really be that bad? After all they do taste good!
In reality, cookies are very useful and without them a website would not be able to move forward and provide the best browsing experience for those who visit it, and that is much worse as it could cause the whole internet to become stagnant. Cookiea are importaqnt to web design, web development, SEO and many types of internet marketing such as affiliate marketing.
Also, all browsers have the option to disable or delete cookies and all have options to delete the cookies once you shut down the browser screen. So, although your actions on a site might be tracked for that session, they can all be removed from your computer once you shut down, meaning when you return to that site you would essentially be seen as a completely new visitor.
The problems with the cookie law
The big issue is the rules have continually changed over the past year, with a final change occurring only 48 hours before the deadline.
The original rules included the stipulation that you had to give visitors to your site the option to browse with or without cookies enabled, utilising some kind of warning message that meant unless you agreed, by default these cookies would be disabled.
This also meant that anyone who did not consent would not be trackable by programs such as Google Analytics, so it would be impossible to compile user data in order to improve your website and create a better browsing experience for your visitors in the future.
However the 11th-hour amendment literally switched this on its head and instead of forcing visitors to opt in, they are now assumed to be consenting, unless they go out of their way to specifically ‘opt out’.
The main stipulations here are that you must:
- B: provide a page, and a link to the page, detailing what cookies are and how to disable them if the visitor wishes.
Well, other than having to provide the information mentioned, it is pretty much business as usual, which is great news for both website owners and visitors alike as it means sites can continue to be better adapted to suit the needs of those surfing the internet.
Many sites still have not complied, and the fact that the ICO has only ever taken one company to court in its history lends a lot less weight to the threat of heavy fines for not conforming. Still other websites are patiently watching what everyone else does and deciding to just use the easiest method to comply with the new regulations.
All in all, as long as you do the minimum to comply, this is just another storm in a teacup, at least until the next big ‘scare’ comes along.