How does the EU Cookie Law affect you?

Rick Donohoe's picture
Jul 1st 2012Account Manager

On 26th May 2011 the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations changed, with the major change relating to the use and storage of cookies. Since 2003 the law stated that a site should provide clear and comprehensive information about any cookies they are using, whereas the updated law now states that in addition the user must give their consent for a site to place cookies on their device.

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a small file that is placed on your device (either PC or mobile depending on how you are viewing the site) which contains certain information about you. The site can then read this cookie whenever you return to access this information in order to tailor it's functionality to suit you. Ever gone on Facebook and found yourself to be logged in when you arrive? That's a cookie right there, allowing Facebook to remember your login details on a specific device.

Most cookies are used for core functionality such as remembering what items you have placed in a shopping cart or keeping you logged into a site when you navigate across different pages, although there is a large number of cookies which are used in an intrusive way, such as remembering your browsing habits and personal information in order to tailor marketing information and advertisements to you.

So what's changed?

Recently you may have encountered the following pop-up on various websites.

 

 

This pop-up (taken from the BBC website) briefly explains that the site uses cookies, and that by continuing to use the site you are giving your consent for cookies to be used. There is also a link to the sites cookie policy where you can find further information on how they use cookies.

As annoying as these may seem, by accepting the use of cookies the site will place a cookie on your device which remembers you have accepted cookies, and prevents the display of this pop-up in subsequent visits.

Each site is different in how it uses cookies, and as cookies which are strictly necessary for the site to function correctly are exempt, not every site will be required to comply with the law. This categorisation of exempt cookies could be considered to be a debatable area, although a high percentage of sites concerned with SEO will use Google Analytics which is not exempt. For this reason we can expect to see the majority of sites complying to the new law.

How does this affect me?

For end users it's simply a case of accepting the use of cookies and carrying on as usual. Site owners on the other hand are liable for up to £500,000 if they fail to comply with the new law, so ensuring your site is protected against this liability is highly important.

Although a penalty this serious will only be implemented in the most extreme cases where cookies have the potential to cause substantial damage or distress, it is in everyone's best interests to ensure your site complies with the law, if not for liability reasons for transparency purposes in order to show end users that you are a trusted and responsible business.

What can we do for you?

Firstly we can provide a cookie audit of your site so you can understand what cookies your site uses and what the purpose of those cookies are. We can then decide whether your site needs changes to be made in order to comply with the policy, and if so we can then use this information in your sites cookie policy.

There are 2 existing Drupal modules available which we can implement on your site to provide pop-up functionality to gather cookie consent from users, depending on which version of Drupal you are running. These are:

 

Cookie Control by budda for Drupal 7 users, which is displayed as follows:

 

 

EU Cookie Compliance by Marcin Pajdzik for Drupal 6 users, which similarly displays as follows:

Note both modules can be customised to your preference, allowing them to integrate with your site's current theme.

If you would like us to provide a cookie audit of your site, feel free to get in touch. We can use this audit to write you a Cookie Policy and implement one of the above modules on your site, customised to your current site theme at a cost of between £300 - £400 depending on the quantity and complexity of the Cookies your site uses, and the level of styling which needs to be applied to the chosen module.

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