UK firms should show awareness of EU cookie law to avoid a fine, says expert

By Sooraj Shah
17 May 2012 View Comments
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UK organisations that are not yet compliant with the EU cookie law should show some awareness of the new legislation to avoid hefty fines, according to Kim Walker, partner at law firm Thomas Eggar.

Further reading

The law is enforceable in the UK from 26 May and is part of the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications.

It means that websites will need to obtain users' opt-in consent before installing cookies that pass on information about browsing activities to third parties.

Walker advised businesses to carry out an audit of the cookies their websites serve.

"We're suggesting that businesses should put something on their website to show that they are carrying out an audit. This would enable them to check what cookies are actually being used, if there are any that are not needed and can be discarded, and to understand why they are being used in the first place," she explained.

She said that the next consideration for firms is to be cautious about implementing any changes as the regulations will not necessarily affect all organisations. The law is aimed at tackling organisations that use cookies to bombard users with adverts, which is not all businesses.

"If a business wants to use the cookies for their own analytics purposes and these fall within the spirit of the regulations then it may be worth taking a commercial view and waiting to see what others do before committing resources to update their website.

"This is because the regulations are clearly aimed at that relatively small number of businesses that are maliciously exploiting the use of cookies," she added.

Walker said that as the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has limited resources it would only concentrate on the businesses that are exploiting the use of cookies.

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