What is the cookie directive and what does it mean for you?

Legislation which relates to how you use cookies and similar technology for storing information on a user’s hardware including their computer or mobile device came into effect at the end of May 2012.

The EU cookie directive, otherwise referred to as ‘the Cookie law’, is a legislation that is meant to improve data privacy and online security by offering online users more control over what information can be held about them. The new regulation states that all web sites will be required to ask visitors for their permission to use the majority of web cookies.

The UK cookie law forces online businesses to be more transparent about the way they are using cookies, i.e. for how long they store cookies, what data is stored, before their cookies may be used to enhance website performance.

The law relates to all Member States of the European Union, however, if a website is located outside the EU, but is directed at visitors from inside the EU, they will certainly need to comply with the identical laws.

You can learn more about this on the official ICO website.

What exactly does that mean for you?

How should you deal with the changes on your website? The change in legislation means that adjustments should be made to the site to ensure that users are aware of the way to ‘opt-in’ to permitting cookies.

It will be possible for websites to use cookies without worrying about visitors consent in situations where it is absolutely necessary for them to do so for website functionality, good example would be the shopping basket on an e-commerce website.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files, primarily consisting of numbers and letters, which can be downloaded onto a device, whether it’s a desktop computer or a mobile phone, whenever a user visits a website. Cookies contain information regarding the visitor, and are used to keep track of their activity, remember their personal preferences and enable specific website functions.

The cookies which are kept on your device by a website, do not contain any data that can be used to identify you personally. Nevertheless, they actually do contain some information that is utilized by the website to improve your experience as a user.

Website owners use cookies for several reasons, for example, in order to: store your preferences regarding a specific website to ensure that the site can be customised according to these preferences when you return; For instance if a person suffers with reading difficulties, they may wish to view text on a website using a larger font. Enabling cookies will allow the site to recognise their preferences, which means that they won’t have to adjust font size each time they visit the website.

Cookies also play a significant part in saving user preferences such as the language that the particular website is displayed in, and storing the products that customers have added to their shopping basket.

Having cookies enabled ensures that if you have already entered a username and security password, you won’t be required to do it all over again for every single webpage that requests that information.

As you can see, enabling cookies can tremendously improve your experience when surfing around the web.

You are in control.

You are able to control cookies by adjusting the settings on your own browser. You can setup your browser to accept virtually all cookies, reject all cookies, or alert you each time a cookie is set. Should you reject all cookies, however, you will not be able to make the most of the Web Services.

By performing a complete cookie audit of your website you can be ahead of the game. If you are concerned about your website contact OMdeSIGN for more information.