EU Cookie Law

**UPDATE**
As of May 2012, it is no longer necessary to explicitly receive consent to use cookies. Implied consent is now an acceptable level of information. This means that, should you opt not to explicitly request consent, you may simply have a page somewhere on your site detailing how cookies are used. (Read more..)

On May 26th 2011, a law was passed in the European Union requiring all websites which utilise cookies to acquire explicit consent from users to place these cookies on the client’s machine.

Knowing that this was not a law which could be enforced overnight, companies were given a 1-year cut-off date to get their websites up to standard.  However, one year on, and many sites are still yet to update their websites according to this new law.

The cookie law guidelines can be pretty vague, and you may be having trouble understanding the key principles of the EU Cookie Law.  I’ve assembled a few FAQs which should help you to decide if your website needs to be updated according to this new law.

My website is hosted outside of the European Union, does this law still affect me?

While hosting websites in other countries has been used in the past to circumvent certain laws, the physical location of your website is actually irrelevant in this case.  If your company is registered in Europe, then your site is affected by the cookie law.

The law states that I’m allowed to use certain cookies.  What constitutes a “required” cookie?

The simplest way to summarise this is as such: If you were to disable a certain cookie on your website, would it no longer be usable?   For example, if you run an e-commerce website and that site uses cookies to store a user’s selection in the basket, and that cookie were to be disabled, the website would break.  These are the kinds of cookies which do not need to be disabled.

However, if your website has a members’ area where users can log in, these cookies aren’t counted as necessary.  That’s right, this would technically still “break” your website, but it’s not counted as a necessary cookie.  I’m so glad that people are allowed to pass laws that they don’t fully understand.

I have a basic website, but I use Google Analytics and similar services.  Am I affected?

Yes.  The law states that your website must have permission to use any cookies used to track user data, such as how your website is used.

Is there an official government program I can use to get my website up to date?

Nope.  They expect all companies to develop their own solutions, since apparently all websites are too different for a standardised solution.  However, I have developed a free script which can be easily implemented on your website, which can be found here.  If, however, you lack the technical knowledge to install the script manually, please contact me and I can update your website for a small fee. (Please note that you will not be paying for any development, merely my time to setup and install the script on your server.)