The EU Cookie law and how it affects your site

screenshot of ICO

The law which relates to how you use cookies for storing information on a user’s computer/device changed today. In this post, resident BritMums techie and Internet entrepreneur Rosie Sherry shares her thoughts on the legislation.

This is not the law you lay down at home on what cookies your children are allowed to eat.

These are cookies on your blog or website.

What are they?

Cookies are a text file placed on users computers that can feed back useful information to the website. This, for example, helps the website remember who you are.

Cookies are not bad. However, rules have come into force that affect websites that use cookies, and it could have repercussions for bloggers. This Guardian story explains a bit of the background:

In May 2011 Brussels introduced amendments to the 2003 EU e-privacy directive requiring websites to gain user consent for the use of tracking technologies, the most common of which are ‘cookies’. The guidance issued on the updated rules encourages companies to be more open about what these cookies are and how they might be used. In the UK, the ICO gave companies a year-long grace period to implement these changes, which comes to an end on 26 May 2012.

This Telegraph article describes it in more detail as well.

To be honest, it’s a minefield, and this new law appears to cause more confusion than necessary. This law is most likely more designed for larger companies and ecommerce websites – where cookies are very important to the users’ experience.

The question is, what do you as a blogger need to do about it?

First off, let me say that my suggestions here are made based on my technical background, not as a lawyer.

But from the looks of things, if you make money from your website then you may want to take some action.

Many people are suggesting that you need to have an opt-in cookies box/form for all users. But even the biggest companies aren’t doing that yet. And the law only came into place just a couple of days ago.

I honestly don’t believe that the law will come after bloggers, self-employed or even small businesses, however, it may be wise to attempt to protect yourself.

Do you have cookies on your website?

Probably!

If you use Google Analytics, your website will be using cookies. If you use a hosted blogging platform, it may be the case that you have no choice but to use cookies of their choosing. If you use third party plugins or code (think Facebook badges), then you may be using cookies there too.

You can find out, perhaps the easiest way would be to install a browser plugin. For example, there is CookieMonster for FireFox. Or Edit This Cookie for Chrome.

How are others doing it?

Have a look at what the BBC are doing, you can go to their website and you will find the following the first time you go:

“We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the BBC website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.”

BT says:

“The cookie settings on this website are set to ‘allow all cookies’ to give you the very best experience. If you continue without changing these settings, you consent to this – but if you want, you can change your settings at any time at the bottom of this page.”

Followed by two buttons whether to change settings or not.

John Lewis take the view that you must have cookies enabled if you want to purchase something online.

Of course, all of these are massive companies, should we be comparing ourselves to them?

To add to the confusion…

Beyond the original ruling, the law had some changes just in the past 48 hours.

“The use of “implied consent” shifts responsibility to the user rather than the website operator, and will come as a relief to thousands of website operators who have been struggling to comply with new EU directives which came into law a year ago.”

This is what I’ve done!

In the research I’ve done on this topic, I can say I’ve decided to adopt what EConsultancy have used on their terms page and use it on my terms page for my small business.

“Cookies. We use a number of different cookies on our site. If you do not know what cookies are, or how to control or delete them, then we recommend you visit http://www.aboutcookies.org for detailed guidance.

The following tables describe the cookies we use on this site and what we use them for. Currently we operate an ‘implied consent’ policy which means that we assume you are happy with this usage. If you are not happy, then you should either not use this site, or you should delete Econsultancy cookies having visited the site, or you should browse the site using your browser’s anonymous usage setting (called “Incognito” in Chrome, “InPrivate” for Internet Explorer, “Private Browsing” in Firefox and Safari etc.)”

Find out more:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/the_guide/cookies.aspx

Or Google “EU Cookie law”.

Share Button

About Rosie Sherry

Rosie Sherry is mother to three boys and is based in Cambridge. These days she can be mostly found working on her somewhat startup style geeky business - The Software Testing Club. However, she is also well known for being a software tester, a social media geek, creating local coworking spaces and being an entrepreneur.

, , ,

4 Responses to The EU Cookie law and how it affects your site

  1. Domestic Goddesque 29 May 2012 at 12:28 #

    Have just installed a plugin to comply with this. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Marianne 29 May 2012 at 18:56 #

      Which one did you choose to install? I am searching on WordPress and loads come up, I’m not sure which one to go for

  2. Domestic Goddesque 29 May 2012 at 21:08 #

    CookieCert EU Cookie Directive- actually can you check it works????

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [BLOGGING] What does the UK and EU Cookie Legislation mean for my Blog? | UK style and beauty blog for frugal fashionistas ¦ Sugar and Spice - 31 May 2012

    […] could – be penalised and what level of consent and the only thing I have managed to find if this post over at Brit Mums. However, I have managed to find this rather useful site and which also includes coding and widgets […]