If you run any website then the answer is most probably yes! Until now the law has stated that as long as users can opt-out of having cookies set on their computer by your website then this is OK, but as of the 26th of May 2011 this is changing. The new law will state that you must get users to expressly opt-in to having your site set cookies on their computer.

Do I even use cookies on my site?

Most websites use cookies in some form or another, be it for tracking users via third-party ad networks or simply displaying a different font size or colour based on users’ preferences. Beyond one small caveat in the rules they do not distinguish between those that grab your details and track your every move to those that aid you in using a site.

As a simple example, do you use Google Analytics on your website? If you do then the new law states you must tell users and get them to tick a box to say they are OK with this before accessing your site!

What should I do?

Well here’s the problem… firstly the suggested fixes have not yet been agreed upon and secondly asking users to opt-in to every website’s privacy settings before use is not only annoying to the user, but could greatly hinder business! The reasoning behind the law is a sound one but, we feel that the practical solution is currently unworkable.

In the first instance we are advising customers to amend their privacy statements to specify the cookies used and their purpose. As with the introduction of website accessibility laws a few years ago, this is going to be a long process for all businesses to be able to implement workable solutions.

The ICO who have set out these rules in the UK use Google Analytics on their own site – and set 5 cookies on your machine when you visit their site. The country now awaits the 26th May to see what the ICO do before following suit.

Read the ICO’s “Changes to the rules on using cookies and similar technologies for storing information” document here >


Opinon: Simon Farrow – Web Designer

2 comments so far

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  1. Thanks Si – very useful! What do reckon? Just leave things as they are for now and see what happens?

  2. I can’t tell you to ignore it, thats a decission for each individual business to make based on how and what they are using cookies for. What we are doing is approaching it with care, we will wait until the 26th and see how the government and big business’s deal with it first before making a decission.