Websites have a year to comply with cookie law Browser technology does not offer a full solution

25 May 2011


After the 25th May, companies need your consent before placing a cookie on your computer

Websites have been given a year to develop a technical solution which will allow them to comply with the European Union’s cookie law.

From tomorrow, all websites must get a web visitor’s explicit consent before dropping a flash cookie, or any other technology which is used to track their browsing habits, on their PC.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) said it recognised that developing a meaningful technical solution for compliance with the revised e-Privacy directive would be a challenge for organisations.

Consequently, they have been given 12 months to ‘get their house in order’ before having to comply with the cookie law, it said.

If a website hasn't developed a solution after that time and they are found to be consistently breaching the directive, they could be fined up to £500,000.

Related: Which? guide to protecting your personal details online

Websites not off the hook 

Information commissioner Christopher Graham said: 'We’re giving businesses and organisations up to one year to get their house in order. This does not let everyone off the hook. Those who choose to do nothing will have their lack of action taken into account when we begin formal enforcement of the rules.'

He said websites should not look to browser settings to provide an answer. 'Browser settings giving individuals more control over cookies will be an important contributor to a solution. But the necessary changes to the technology aren’t there yet.' 

In the meantime, although there isn't a formal transitional period in the Regulations, the government has said it doesn't expect the ICO to enforce this new rule straight away.

The ICO today published guidance on how it intends to enforce the new rules on cookies. 

It also published additional information for consumers on what the new rules will mean for them.

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