The New Cookie Law in the UK

Sadly, not a law about yummy biscuits (mmmm white chocolate and macadamia…). No, this is the recently mandated regulation designed to help users of websites know what information is being collected during their visit.

Website owners are being required to get positive acceptance from their visitors that they understand what information is being collected and agree to accepting cookies on their computers. This is a big thing to ask – often website owners themselves aren’t aware of what cookies their own websites might be using!

If you were one of the many who didn’t know, “cookies” are just little bits of code that are installed on the visitor’s computer for various reasons.  Sometimes it’s to make a shopping cart work; sometimes it’s to allow advertisers to pick up information about sites you’ve visited so they can target adverts better; very often it’s to help website owners get the most out of their website by analyzing where site visitors are coming from and what they are looking at on the site. Ironically, some methods of keeping track whether you’ve positively agreed to allow cookies onto your computer use, er, cookies…

I resisted posting about the new cookie law straight away, wanting to see what the bigger sites are doing about it. It’s quite interesting!

Some sites are going as far as a pop-up message asking you to tick a box to agree to accept cookies.  I’ve not found one of these yet that sends you anywhere differently if you just close the box or ignore it. Of course the next time you visit such a site, you should still be asked for the agreement, if you didn’t accept last time so it could get irritating.

Other sites seem to be opting for the approach of letting visitors know what cookies are being used with the site, and stating plainly that continuing to use the site constitutes acceptance of the site. This is really just building on good practice that many websites have operated for several years. Importantly though, it does mean that as a website owner you need to make sure you have done an audit and know what cookies are in use. After that, make sure they are in your privacy policy.

This seems to me to be a reasonable position to take.  So for the record; this site uses cookies so that I can collect information about numbers of visitors, roughly where they come from, and what they look at when they are here. No personally identifiable information is collected. If you continue to use my site, I take that as your acceptance of these cookies. Of course, most browsers offer the ability to block cookies.  If you choose to do so, you may find that some aspects of the website no longer work correctly – I do not believe that is the case on this site but do let me know if that happens!

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