ICO Looking To Change Cookie Laws?
If you’ve ever found it annoying to see the banner appear on a website
warning you that cookies are being used and requesting your consent or a click
on the ‘X’ then you may be relieved to know that the Information
Commissioner’s Office is looking to make changes to the cookie law that
could mean fewer of these warnings.
What Is the Cookie Law?
The so called ‘cookie law’ (which began life as an EU Directive)
was widely adopted in 2011 and became an update to the UK’s Privacy
and Electronic Communications Regulations. The cookie law is a privacy measure
that was designed to make people aware of how the information about them is
collected online and to give them the opportunity to say yes or no to it.
An ICO study found that 94% of UK websites now feature these banners or warnings
and that UK websites place an average of 44 cookies on your first visit. These
figures mean that we in the UK have more cookies and more cookie warnings than
many other European countries.
Why The Re-Think By the ICO?
Despite the ICO enforcing the law for the last 5 years they have now submitted suggestions to the EU’s Consultation for some changes for the following reasons:
What Kind of Changes?
The ICO appear to be in favour of changes that achieve a balance between the
privacy rights of individuals and the information interests of business and
society services. This means that the ICO would favour exemptions to the cookie
law where there is minimal impact to a person’s privacy, but have rejected
the EU’s suggestion of a cookie-free version of website content where
the individual’s ‘choice’ would be to stop viewing the page.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
A change in the cookie law is unlikely to have a huge commercial impact in
the UK although exemptions may mean that website visitors have a better experience
when visiting the company website. If subtle changes are made to the cookie
law it could of course mean that changes will need to be made to the cookie
banner and when / how / if it is displayed.