EU Cookie Law

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Cookie Policy and new European Legislation

Cookie Policy: Earlier this year, a new law came into place regarding the use of cookies on websites. If a website uses cookies, the site has to ask permission from the visitor before it sets a cookie, otherwise the website is breaking the law, and the owner could potentially be liable for a fine of up to £500,000.

If your website was set up before May 2012, it is very likely that your site is using cookies and breaking this law – don’t worry quite yet though, not a single case has been brought yet, so the risk to you at the moment is very, very low!

Before we get on to what you should do about this law, let’s look at what a cookie is, and why this law exists.

What is a cookie and why do I need them?

A cookie is a small text file that a website can save on your computer. It is not a program and by itself doesn’t actually do anything. However, when you next visit a website that has saved a cookie on you computer, the website knows that you visited it previously and can show you personalized information, for example the items you have purchased previously on a shopping site.

Because cookies allow a user to be tracked across a website, it means that a user profile can be built and their browsing habits can be analysed. While on a single website, this is not a big deal, some big companies such as Google and Facebook can set cookies on many thousands of sites, meaning that they can track you across a huge part of the web and get a very detailed profile of you and your browsing habits

The law exists to try and give users control over how cookies are set, so they can choose whether or not to allow them for each website they visit. However, for a number of reasons, the law is badly thought out, confusing and unclear, and to top it off, won’t actually protect people privacy! See this video below for just some of the problems with the law.

What does this mean for me and my website?

Firstly, we are not lawyers, so this doesn’t constitute legal advice, and is not meant to be – this is just our opinion on the matter – for legal advice, you are better speaking to a lawyer than a web designer!

As of today, not a single case against a website has been brought, and the law is so vague, it is difficult to say exactly what need to be done to make your site legal. Until the first lawsuit is brought, noone is totally sure what counts as compliance. However, there are a few recommended steps you should take to make sure you are doing the right thing

Basically, if your site sets cookies (and it almost certainly does) you need to clearly state your cookie policy, and should let visitors know when they first visit that you use them. Most sites do this by using some sort of pop up telling users about the fact the site uses cookies the first time they visit, and giving them the option to leave the site if they don’t want the site to set them.

If you are unsure if your site sets cookies, and want to check if you are compliant with the law, please contact us, and we will give you our advice as to what you should do.

How do I make sure my website is compliant?

We can help you become compliant with the law by checking that your website displays a message notifying first time visitors to your website that you set cookies, and making sure that you have a relevant cookie policy on your website.

If you would like us to set the up for you, please contact us or give us a call on 0131 208 1023 and we can give your website a checkup to see if it complies with the law, and what needs to be done to make sure it does.