Goodbye cookie law

Cookie Law summarised

EU web users may have been vaguely aware of notices informing them that the websites they were visiting were using cookies since mid 2012. The EU cookie law as it became known was greeted by so much confusion, especially in the UK as the organisation responsible for policing the UK cookie law has never given out anything remotely resembling helpful guidance.


The Information Commissioner’s Office has flip-flopped so much. In 2010 they said that website owners should inform users that their are using cookies. In 2011 they said that website owners should gain consent for cookie use, and by default they should be disabled. By 2012 when the law was due to come into force, the ICO failed to give any useful guidelines, stating that they probably wouldn’t go after websites who don’t disable cookies as long as they inform the user. However, that was no guarantee. Roll on a few months and ICO have announced that they will stop asking users for permission to set cookies on their own website.


The ICO state that they have made the change “so that we can get reliable information to make our website better”. They’ve changed their mind because “many more people are [now] aware of cookies”. I’d like to know how they came to that conclusion, from my experience most users still have no idea what a cookie even is, let alone how to prevent them.


ICO will now simply display a banner on their website to tell their visitors that by visiting their website they consent to the use of cookies, and they’ll link to a page explaining what cookies are and how to disable them in your browser. So we are back to the implied consent that they said they probably wouldn’t prosecute over. I guess this is the guidance web developers were looking for 6 months ago. Better late than never I guess.


This law has been so derided by the people charged with enforcing it, and given that major websites such as Amazon, Google and Facebook chose to ignore it entirely, its not surprising that it has ultimately proved completely unworkable.


Thanks for reading,


Cookie Law infographic

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