The EU’s Privacy and Communications Directive: what the cookie law means for business

On the 26th of May, the EU’s Privacy and Communications Directive came into force in the UK. The new law, commonly known as the ‘cookie law’ is designed to give web users more control over how their online behaviour is tracked, primarily by cookies.

On the 26th of May, the EU's Privacy and Communications Directive came into force in the UK. The new law, commonly known as the 'cookie law' is designed to give web users more control over how their online behaviour is tracked, primarily by cookies.

What does the change mean?

In a nutshell, historically it was enough to state on your website that you used cookies, what they were used for and the steps that a user could take to remove them, however under the new rules, you actively have to seek permission from users for cookies to be used - this applies regardless of the device being used, be it mobile or desktop.

There are many types of cookies, some are used for analytical purposes, others are used for remembering a users preferences - however, under the new regulations, regardless of what you use cookies for, you are being advised to assess your cookie usage to determine their level of intrusiveness, highlight your use of cookies and their purpose to your website visitors, and actively seek permission for their use to go ahead.

So what do you need to do to comply?

Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules, as cookie usage will be different from business to business. However, to help our clients decide on the best course of action for them, we have created some simple guidelines on what we believe are the best possible options going forward - more details of which can be found in here (PDF).

We'll be keeping a close eye on the impact of this new law. Given that recent surveys suggest that only 13% of web users understand what cookies are, it remains to be seen if this new regulation will be a good thing!