Update: The organisation responsible for policing the UK cookie law has announced that they will stop asking users for permission to set cookies on their own website.

On 26 May 2012, a new European Directive ‘2009/136/EC’ came into force regarding e-Privacy and the use of cookies on websites.

This new EU law means that all websites aimed at the EU market including the UK will need to ask visitors for consent before placing certain types of cookies on their computer. If you store any information on a user’s machine then the chances are you use cookies in some way and this directive almost certainly applies.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files which are stored on a user’s computer and designed to hold a modest amount of data specific to a particular website.

Cookies allow you to login on one page, then move around to other pages and stay logged in. They also allow you to set preferences for the display of a page, and for these to be remembered the next time you return.

What can be done to comply with this directive?

At the moment, there is little industry agreement on how this opt-in can be accomplished without adversely affecting the way in which a user interacts with a website. However, you can’t just hide it away – it has to be explicit. Updating your website’s terms and conditions or privacy policy is not sufficient.

An alternative method that we recommend is to use a popup window to inform the user of what will happen. This can be fairly unobtrusive but must ask the user to accept.

Here is an example of a popup window example as well as an information bar example which scrolls down from the top of the screen and slides away upon agreement.

We are able to implement this script for a nominal fee depending on the complexity of the website, however it is your choice if you want to be compliant. We can only recommend that you carry out further research and act appropriately. The website owner is responsible for any fines should they arise.

For more information regarding the new EU cookie law, see the Information Commissioner’s Office ICO website.

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About Europa Studio

Europa Studio is an independent design and marketing consultancy based in Bournemouth, Dorset. Since 2004, we have helped a wide variety of businesses grow and be more innovative. We provide services primarily in the areas of web and graphic design, email marketing, search engine optimisation, photography and video production.