Are you ready for this week`s change in cookie law?

The law relating to the use of website cookies changes on Thursday 26 May

Put simply, from that date if your website plants a cookie on a user`s machine or you read a cookie without having first obtained the user`s consent, you will be at risk of breaching the law. If your website has any of the following features you will need to consider how the change in the law will affect your website:

• Remember me 

• Recently viewed items 

• Favourites function 

• Personalisation features 

• Online advertising etc 

The only exception is a cookie which is strictly necessary for a user-requested action, such as a cookie required to operate a shopping cart. 

The new law will be enacted by amending a set of Regulations known as "PECR". Although the Government has offered some comfort that it will not enforce the new law in full from the first day, it has now been made clear by the Information Commissioner`s Office (ICO) that every organisation which has a website must be able to prove that it is taking active steps towards compliance straight away. In the first instance this means that you should: 

1. Check what type of cookies and similar technologies your website uses; 

2. Assess how intrusive that use of cookies is; and 

3. Decide what solutions to obtain consent will be best in the circumstances. 

The ICO, which has been given new powers to fine up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the amended Regulations, will shortly be issuing Guidance as to how it will enforce the new law - so time is pressing to be carrying out the three actions identified above. There is confusion over what methods of obtaining consent are sufficient but themes are already emerging. It is now certain that relying on statements in privacy policies will not in itself be enough to ensure compliance. 

Rollits and its multimedia partner Headland have teamed up to offer advice to businesses, charities and public sector organisations as to how the change in law affects them and what steps they need to be taking. Rollits has a team of legal experts with practical expertise who have worked at the forefront of data protection and ecommerce law for over a decade. Headland is one of the country`s leading digital marketing agencies working with high profile clients such as Alton Towers, Santander and National Geographic. 

If you would like to discuss how you can be preparing your organisation for the change in legislation please contact Tom Morrison or Ken Heptonstall who will be happy to share their thoughts with you and offer advice. 

Tom Morrison 
Partner at Rollits LLP
Tel: 01482 323239 or 01904 625790 

Ken Heptonstall 
Director of Headland
Tel: 0115 955 1155

Posted on: 24/05/2011

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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