On the 26th May 2012, legislation comes into effect that require companies with websites to ensure that user consent is obtained to store non “essential use” cookies on their PC.

The onus falls upon the owners/operators of websites to ensure compliance and at the current estimate is expected to cost business in the UK £10bn to implement.

Obviously, in this climate, this is a burden that most companies could well do without and like many in the industry, ever since we heard about the law we’ve been waiting for a clear and concise directives from the ICO (Information Commisioners Office) but even so close to the deadline, clarity is the one thing missing in all this.

(More general information on this topic can be found at the ICO here – http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/the_guide/cookies.aspx)

In general cookies will fall into two categories:

  1. essential – which are exempt (job / shopping baskets)
  2. non-essential – fall under these regulations (tracking & analytics cookies)

With our FXRecruiter recruitment websites, we feel the vast majority of cookies used fall into the “essential use” category and thus would be exempt.

However, there is one cookie that a huge number of sites use and will soon fall under the “non-essential” category, is the cookie used for Google Analytics (GA).  As this GA cookie is used on millions of websites, there is a major concern about this legislation and there are ongoing discussions about how this can be resolved without the cost to UK business, which up to now have yielded little help from the ICO.

In fact in one of their earlier updates several months ago, they state that analytics cookies are well down on their list of priorities for action:

“Although the Information Commissioner cannot completely exclude the possibility of formal action in any area, it is highly unlikely that priority for any formal action would be given to focusing on uses of cookies where there is a low level of intrusiveness and risk of harm to individuals.”

So there, in a nutshell is the problem.  Google Cookies are “non-essential”, thus consent must be gained before storing them on a users PC. But hey – if you don’t then we are unlikely to fine you.  Confused ?  Join then masses.

How do I become compliant?

Firstly, as the onus of the regulation falls onto the site owner, we strongly urge you to review the regulations at the ICO site and  ensure that the requirements are met. If you are unsure about them, take appropriate legal advice.

We can advise on technical issues only and are not legal advisers.

We do have a solution for our FXRecruiter sites that we can discuss individually with our clients and depending on their legal advice.  For other bespoke sites then clients can approach us for advice.

There are also other solutions out there on offer which a Google search should find and we can advise you on the best way to integrate with your site should you be advised to display an option to site users.

Watch this space…

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2 Comments:

    • Dave Haygarth
    • May 15, 2012
    • Reply

    Good post Paul. We’d better get something up on our site … !

    • Wolf Software
    • May 20, 2012
    • Reply

    We have created a complete suite of solutions both free and commercial for people who want to gain compliance via an active consent mechanism.

    http://demos.dev.wolf-software.com

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