Advice on EU Cookie Directive

Under a new EU law introduced in May 2011 (enfored from 26th May 2012 by the Information Commissioners Office) websites making use of cookies must:

  • tell people that the cookies are there,
  • explain what the cookies are doing, and
  • obtain their consent to store a cookie on their device.

Under a new EU law introduced in May 2011 (enfored from 26th May 2012 by the Information Commissioners Office) websites making use of cookies must:

  • tell people that the cookies are there,
  • explain what the cookies are doing, and
  • obtain their consent to store a cookie on their device.

The following information is for all Simply. PR & Events website customers and is our understanding of this law. It explains your options and how we will implement them subject to your decision.

Please note, we are not lawyers and have not sought any independant legal advice, this is our understanding of the law and how we believe are the best solutions for complying with it. If you are in any doubt you should seek your own legal advice.

To fully understand this law please visit the ICO website which gives much more detailed information and download their guidance on the regulations.

So what is a cookie?
Cookies are small files stored on the computer/device of all the visitors accessing your website. These files allow the website to recognise the computer and any options the visitor may have selected, such as saving a login or remembering a language setting. Cookies are extremely common, approximately 90% of websites make use of them in one form or another.

In some cases, such as analytics tracking software, they record how long the visitor stayed on the website, which pages they visited and other such statistics. It should be noted no personal information is collected in these analytics.

What cookies does your website use?
The majority of our websites store cookies, mostly session cookies, which are temporary cookies removed as soon as the visitor closes their web browser and simply remember where a visitor has browsed around the website.

We also enable Google Analytics, statistics tracking which store cookies on visitors computers, to let you know how many times they have visited your website, how long they stayed and which pages they visited.

Some of our websites also include ecommerce stores. These too store cookies to remember what visitors have added to their shopping baskets and to allow the checkout process.

How can your website comply with the new law?
You have several options to make sure your website complies with the new law...

  • add a pop-up window or entry page before the website opens asking users to allow or deny the use of cookies or
  • add a short note to the top of your website pages (such as the ICO website) advising visitors of cookies in use and giving them an option to opt in or
  • remove all cookies from your website

Add a pop-up / entry page
This is an option we will not be offering as we feel users will quickly become annoyed having to make a selection before getting into your website and means they may look elsewhere.

Add a note to the top of each page asking for cookie approval
This is an option that can be set if you decide to, just as with the ICO website a note will be applied to the top of each webpage asking the visitor to accept cookies. If they do not accept, then cookies will not be stored and so Google Analytics and some other services will not work. It should be noted the ICO have seen a 90% drop in their analytics tracking since implementing this.

Remove all cookies
The only fully compliant option, and most likely the preferred solution to our customers. The main cookies we make use of are for Google Analytics so by simply turning this off cookies will not be stored. We are looking at alternative statistics options and will make them available to you as soon as possible. Most companies are waiting to see what happens with the new law and how enforceable it is and the likely penalties for not complying so we will provide further advice as when it becomes clearer.

Exceptions
Please note there are exceptions; "where such storage or access is strictly necessary to provide an information society service requested by the subscriber or user".

This means that any customers running ecommerce stores or offering services that the user must login/provide information for the service to function, cookies are allowed.

We will be adding a short message to any login forms to make visitors aware a cookie will be in use and should they not want this the service will not be available to them.

Email marketing
If your website includes the newsletter marketing system we advise you to send all subscribed users a mail letting them know the emails they receive include cookies to track links they may click and confirms emails have been opened. They can then choose to carry on being subscribed or unsubscribe accordingly.

Likewise a message will be added to all subscription pages advising cookies are in use when newsletter mailings are made.

Privacy policy / terms and conditions
As a final option we advise you to amend / add websites terms and conditions or a privacy statement to include what you are doing to comply with this cookie law. This should explain how your website handles cookies, what cookies it stores and how they are used, or if your decide to turn off all cookies you should mention this so visitors and the ICO know you are complying.

Summary
We hope this helps inform our customers of this new law, we will be implementing changes over the coming weeks in time for the 26th May deadline so please get in touch to ensure we have made your site compliant.

Interesting reading:
http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/9416-eu-cookie-law-uk-government-crumbles
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.co.uk/news/2240147540/For-website-owners-UK-cookie-law-causing-confusion-uncertainty


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