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Wednesday, 25th April 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Joanna Ptolomey


With EU cookie compliance law due to be enforced on 26 May 2012, many organisations are simply not ready. There seems to be no consensus about the best way forward to get websites compliant, and industry suggests that compliance could harm online sales


European Union (EU) cookie compliance news has been rumbling on for the last year or so. Here are some LiveWire comments from Tim Buckley Owen last year. The EU law came into force in May 2011 and applies to the use of cookies on equipment such as computers or mobile devices.

But what news of implementation and compliance so far?

A newly published Econsultancy report The EU Cookie Law: a guide to compliance provides a good starting point to ensure that your website complies with EU ePrivacy directive. The report sets out to explain the legislation in respect to UK online businesses and provides some practical steps towards compliance.

There do seem to be a few ways in which online businesses could be compliant, such as modal dialog boxes, status bars and warning bars. Setting preferences is also suggested, whereby users' consent is not explicit as such. But as yet there does not seem to be one best way forward.

There is a general feeling that businesses have been confused about what to do. The grace period of a year has left businesses looking to each other to see who sticks their heads above the parapet first. This does not seem like easy legislation to put into practice.

According to consultants KPMG 95% of businesses are not ready for the EU cookie compliance law due to be enforced from 26 May 2012. Last year businesses were given one year, by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), to get their websites compliance ready and that is now nearly up. Failure to do so could result in fines up to £500,000 by the ICO.

The strong theme coming through much of the industry news is that this cookie legislation could seriously harm online sales. Another point to note is that a high level of tracking cookies on websites are not from that particular company but are third party cookies such as advertisers. The FT reports this figure could be about two thirds.

Cory Doctorow doesn’t think cookie legislation and consent will work, nor will it be enforceable. Set your calendars folks, not long to go now.


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Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

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