So the first question is what the hell is it? Against popular belief it’s not in anyway related to Sesame Street but refers to a new piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to gain consent from visitors to store or retrieve information on a computer or mobile device such as a smartphone. The simple aim being that users are given information about how personal data is used by websites and are consequently given the choice to protect their online privacy.
Back on 26 May 2011 an EU Directive – the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 – were adopted. The law is in place and has been for 12 months but the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) gave us all one year to get our houses in order and hence the 26 May 2012 ‘go live’ date.
Don’t feel you can just shove any old copy on a website either – you need to find out what cookies are running on your site to ensure you understand what they do on a website. Many cookies are part of the basic operation of a site but others can pass on information to third parties and it is the latter that are the particularly onerous ones in light of the new law. It is these latter tags that ping up things such as behavioural advertising on sites you are looking at and from 26 May website owners may need to seek a users permission to use such cookies.
The ‘life’ of a cookie in use is also an issue – some delete themselves when you leave a website whilst others can hang around for months, years or in perpetuity which is something the law is particularly conscious of.
If your site is loaded with third party advertising and other third party content it is best an ‘opt-in’ option is given on the homepage – it is also important that you keep up to date with any changes to third party content as any changes in cookie content needs to be updated in your disclosure.
So the bottom line – if in doubt then seek help but don’t keep your head down – whilst it is our view that the chances of a ‘cookie raid’ at 12.01 am on 26 May is unlikely the law is operative and action should be taken…good luck.