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Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy

EU Cookie Law

by Chris Pritchard Legal

All UK websites must comply with the EU "Cookie Law" which came into effect on May 26, 2012. The essence of this law is that all website owners must have the consent of their visitors before depositing cookies on their computers. The problem is that most people don't know what cookies are and how they are used.

All UK websites must comply with the EU “Cookie Law" which came into effect on May 26, 2012. The essence of this law is that all website owners must have the consent of their visitors before depositing cookies on their computers. The problem is that most people don't know what cookies are and how they are used.

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a small file that is downloaded to your computer when you visit a website. Cookies contain information about the you visit so that the site will know that you have visited previously and can customise the site just for you.

Why are they needed?

Websites have very short memories. Whenever you click on a link or enter a URL, your web browser requests the page from the server. The server then returns (serves up) the page and its job is done. It doesn't remember the transaction and just sits waiting for the next page request. This is fine if all of the pages on a website are publicly available, but what if there is a members-only section that requires you to log in before you can view it? This is where cookies come in. When you log in, your details are stored in a cookie that is then saved on your machine. When you subsequently request one of the pages in the members-only area, your browser makes the request to the server and sends the cookie as well. The server knows that the page requested is in the members-only area and checks the information contained in the cookie. If it confirms that you are logged in, the page request is allowed.

However, this is only one function that cookies perform. They are used for many other purposes including, tracking visitors, personalising page content, tracking shopping cart items, targeted advertising and many more.

Enter the EU Cookie Law

The Cookie Law is intended to safeguard your privacy online and protect website visitors from unwanted marketing. Companies will use cookies to track where you have been and what you have viewed online. The law requires that any company must have the consent of web users before it can collect information about them.

The problem is that the law is rather vague about how the law should be implemented and how you should get your visitors' consent? There are essentially two methods of obtaining consent: explicit and implied. Explicit consent puts the responsibility on the website owner who must asking for consent before using cookies. Implied shifts the responsibility to the visitors who give their consent by merely using your website. You do need to have this stated clearly on a page that is easily accessible.

For more information on this topic, or for a free consultation in the Oxfordshire area, contact us today.

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