Cookie Law

The Cookie Law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer, smartphone or tablet. It was designed to protect online privacy, by making consumers aware of how information about them is collected and used online, and give them a choice to allow it or not.

It started as an EU Directive that was adopted by all EU countries in May 2011. The Directive gave individuals rights to refuse the use of cookies that reduce their online privacy. Each country then updated its own laws to comply. In the UK this meant an update to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Almost all websites use cookies – little data files – to store information in peoples’ web browsers. Some websites contain hundreds of them. There are other technologies, like Flash and HTML5 Local Storage that do similar things, and these are also covered by the legislation, but as cookies are the most common technology in use, it has become known as the Cookie Law.

Compliance with the cookie law comes down to three basic steps:

  • Work out what cookies your site sets, and what they are used for, with a cookie audit
  • Tell your visitors how you use cookies.
  • Obtain their consent, such as by using Optanon, and give them some control.

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