New EU regulations on the use of website tracking technologies such as cookies came into force on Sunday, but the cookie guidelines for British websites were altered by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) just 48 hours prior, drastically changing the ICO’s stance on user’s consent.
The ICO had given British websites a year’s grace period to comply with the new legislation which expired this weekend. A recent study from KPMG showed that 95 per cent of organisations have yet to comply with the legislation. With the ICO now able to exact a fine of up to £500,000, some have warned that many businesses risk going bust through both total and non-compliance with the law.
With many UK website owners relying on cookies to store data required to run the website, such as shopping baskets and other preferences, the ICO updated their advice on using cookies, stating that websites can assume that users have consented to the use of them through using the website itself, shifting the responsibility to the user, rather than the website operator.
Whilst this is highly subjective, to be confident in this regard, the website owner must ensure that clear and relevant information is easily available to users explaining in full the nature of tracking technologies occurring through use of the site.