Friday, 30 March 2012

MUST READ : The PECR 'Cookie Law' starts in May 2012


The UK's new Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), announced by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in 2011, will be enforced in May 2012. In advance of the compliance date, organisations are expected to take appropriate steps to be compliant, which include making proactive changes to their websites.

Best practice is to conduct a cookie audit and make changes to your websites to ensure compliance.

Once you've audited for cookies, decide what you should do with those you've found. As you may recall you require informed consent from Users to continue using cookies to collect data about them.

After May 26th if a business is not compliant, or is not visibly working towards compliance, it will run the risk of enforcement action from the ICO. Fines are unlikely except for flagrant breach but they can be up to half a million pounds.

If you cannot or do not want to gain consents you should remove cookies especially those that are intrusive. Any cookies that are designed to track individual visitor behaviour are likely to be considered intrusive. Early indications suggest that intrusive cookie notices are leading to visitor volumes falling. If you need cookies to make the website operate or where consent can be assumed, the notice you issue must specific as the ICO guidance suggests that assumed consent can only be construed in very narrow circumstances.

Where third party suppliers' content is included, you need to be certain of what cookies they use and what for.

The minimum a cookie notice is likely to need is:

  • A statement that cookies are being used and their purpose (to enable the website to function, primarily)
  • A link to a description describing each cookie and its use.
  • A tick box gaining consent for that cookie - remember to include this cookie in the list of cookies used.
  • A tick box for whether the cookie can be stored for the session and/ or more permanently.

Source Lockyers Solicitors (SRA firm number 496319). Lockyers is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales. T. 07798 617604 or 01279 505970. 


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