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10 May 2011, 10:22

ICO gives advice on EU cookies law

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On 26 May, an amendment to the European Union's Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive becomes law in the UK and will require that web sites in the UK get "informed consent" from visitors to store and retrieve information on users' computers. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has published advicePDF on how organisations can keep their sites in compliance, focussing in particular on the use of cookies.

The ICO advice notes that there is an exception to the requirement for consent if the cookie is "strictly necessary" for a service requested by the user. The advice explains that the "strictly necessary" exception is subject to a narrow interpretation and would not apply, for example, to user preferences or collecting statistical information. There are also suggestions on how to garner users' consent through pop-ups, terms and conditions changes or other techniques. ICO indicates that enforcement of the rules will be phased in, as per government wishes, but says "you cannot ignore these rules". ICO will be issuing guidance at a later date on how it intends to enforce the regulations; it has not issued advice for consumers at this time.


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