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The author

James Holding

Head of Analytics

A recent announcement publicised by the BBC suggests that the long discussed European Law on cookies will come into force on the 25 May. The new law requires consent from the user BEFORE any usage information is stored on a user’s computer. The law allows for an exception: if they are used for a specific user requested action such as adding products to a basket (I presume this is still classed as consensual?). Mooted Initial Solutions Using a pop up that explicitly asks for the user to agree to use cookies has been suggested, although this seems a rather cumbersome method. Google for one is against the use of “pop ups,” and they are explicitly against the AdWords T+C’s (although I can see this changing). Rather than a pop up, a better solution may be to have a “cookie acceptance” page, which is displayed to any user who has not already chosen an acceptance option. Just Speculation For Now? The above solutions are mainly speculation at the moment as the law still has to be interpreted by the UK, who from what I have read this morning, still seem to be in dispute with the EU over the previous change.

The following quote is taken from the ICO website: “The Directive will come into force in less than two months time and businesses and organisations running websites in the UK must wake up to the fact that this is happening. We are proactively working with the government, businesses and the public sector to find a workable solution. We recognise that the internet as we know it today depends on the widespread use of cookies and there are of course legitimate business reasons for using them. So we are clear that these changes must not have a detrimental impact on consumers nor cause an unnecessary burden on UK businesses. One option being considered is to allow consent to the use of cookies to be given via browser settings.” The interesting bit is towards the end of the statement, allowing consent via a browser setting. In my opinion, this is very similar to the way that cookies are allowed now unless a user specifically “opts out.” Surely the majority of browser companies that support this are likely to default this to allow cookies. A setting in the browser would be an easy solution to adopt, without drastic change to the way users have become accustomed to using a website with minimal disruption. The current law on Cookies specifically states that they may be opted out, whilst most browsers contain options to stop cookies, or indeed the ability to download plugins which can perform this feature. Browser companies have recently been including “do not track” features which can disallow cookies, whilst many browser plugins offer greater control on the use of cookies (and the blocking of such for both tracking and advertising networks). Security Many sites argue that cookies are a necessary part of the security process. Whilst researching the cookie topic, I stumbled across this post containing quotes from a pan European chat network that use cookies as a security method. Going Forwards After the law is introduced the ICO is not expected to take action in the short term, as businesses figure out how to adapt (again from a statement by the ICO). There was a conference yesterday, in which the discussion of this topic is expected to be included along with the penalty for non-compliance. An important change and certainly one to keep an eye on, as it has drastic implications for online websites and the online advertising industry in particular. Check out the ICO website for further info and to keep updated: How will this affect businesses and e-commerce platforms, who depend so heavily on cookies? I would be interested in your comments and opinions.