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Cookie law change on the horizon

19 May 2011

The new Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations will come into force from 26 May 2011. The regulations cover any information which may be stored on, or accessed from, a user’s computer, but for the sake of brevity such information will be referred to as cookies.

The position prior to the amendment was that websites needed to inform users ofcookies how they used cookies and how users could opt out.

The new position is that websites must obtain the consent of users before storing any cookies which are not strictly necessary to the functioning of the website, or for the sole purpose of transmitting communications. Consent could be gained through the use of pop-ups, splash pages or notices on web pages.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has provided useful guidance here. Initially it seems the ICO will leave it to site operators to decide the best ways to obtain consent, treating operators who can show they have taken steps to comply more leniently than those who cannot.

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