Cookie compliance … or are you just ignoring it ?

eu cookie lawWell the deadline for compliance with the new EU Cookie Law on the 26th of May 2012 has come and gone and a further survey since by KPMG suggests that around 80% of UK websites they surveyed are pretty much ignoring it. Their earlier survey of the same 55 larger UK companies before the deadline indicated that 95% were not compliant.

Other reports in the media this week suggest that because of the last minute change of advice from the ICO, which now recommends that implied consent is acceptable after all, means that many businesses  who had taken steps to comply have spent a lot of money on solutions that exceed what is required. In the light of this, it seems that a strategy of “wait and see for a while” adopted by the majority was probably a good one.

General advice now seems to be to at least update your privacy policy to demonstrate you are taking steps towards complying.  As a next stage, adopt an implied consent model on your  site. For most small sites who are probably only using 1st party cookies for analytics, this should be sufficient to comply. If your site depends heavily on particularly invasive, 3rd party cookies you probably need to do more.

Many have been waiting to see if the browser manufacturers would do anything to make things easier to comply. The FT reported this week that Microsoft apparently stated  that they would be introducing a  “do not track” option set as the default setting in their next release of the Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

If this was limited to 3rd party cookies, it would have a big impact on on-line advertising. The advertising industry has not responded well to this since it would mean many advertising functions would not work any more unless the site visitor specifically enabled the use of cookies. If it applied to all cookies,  it would have a big impact on many website functions and analytics as well. This approach would appear to be a step in the wrong direction and could well be another nail in the coffin for IE who are already losing quite a share of the browser market.

So, if everyone ignores it, will it go away ?


This article is not a statement of the law and does not constitute legal advice. Website owners / operators are responsible for their own compliance strategies, depending on the cookies they use and the nature of the website. The author does not endorse any particular method for gaining website users’ consent.