Websites use something called ‘cookies’, now these can be used for a number of things including user tracking, shopping carts and targeted advertising amongst other things. The law that came into action on 26th may means if your website uses cookies in any form, whether it is Google analytics or as part of a PHP script, then you MUST obtain permission from those visiting your website, for them to accept the cookies.
This means using some form of ‘POP UP’ on your website, stating that your website uses cookies and asking the visitor to your website to click ‘Accept’ or ‘Agree’ to using your website with cookies.
You can view more about the new law and see an example of a ‘POP UP’ in action here: http://www.cookielaw.org/

What does this mean EXACTLY?

  • You MUST audit your cookies and provide clear information about them on your privacy page
  • You must use a script to obtain the visitors consent BEFORE and cookies are stored
  • If your website uses cookies that are strictly necessary, e.g. a shopping cart, it is ok to store a cookie without permission, HOWEVER, things such as Google analytics and social media plugins are NOT strictly necessary and so permission IS required.

The solution:
So what can you do?
The most obvious one is going to be a pop up box, asking for your users permission, if this appears on every page though, it could be annoying and cause a drop in traffic.
If you are using anything as simple as Google analytics, then you need to comply with this new regulation.
There are many web design companies out there now charging big money for implementation of a script that requires user approval, as much as £500 per year, but you does NOT need to spend such money.
Here are a number of solutions to putting the script on your website and obtaining your visitors permission:

http://www.portent.com/blog/design-dev/web-browser-cookie-law.htm
http://www.civicuk.com/cookie-law/index
http://cookiecuttr.com/
http://cookiesdirective.com/

What about “IMPLIED CONSENT”??
As understood by many, implied consent is acceptable IF users understand that their actions result in cookies being used, this does NOT mean a privacy policy page is effective enough…. I have heard stories of companies making their privacy policy more prominent and revising the terms in their privacy policy to accommodate the new law. Although they have not requested their users permission they believe the above steps have complied and believe no action will be taken against them for not having an opt in/out box.

How will I be affected?
Well firstly, the organisation that passed this law and began using the pop up method of gaining consent on their website has a loss in traffic of up to 90%!!!!
If you are using scripts such as Google analytics and the user refuses your cookies, you simply will not receive any information in your analytics for that user.
I hope this helps and clears things up, to summarise:
Implied consent is still a bit of a grey area, if you are not actively requesting your visitor’s permission to opt in or out then you are NOT fully complying with the new legislation.
If you need help installing new scripts or would like to discuss this further feel free to reach me on 0121 663 0202 or email me on craig@altwebdesignuk.co.uk