Cookies- how to make sure you haven’t bitten off more than you can chew

We have all heard of cookies, that is the small amounts of data sent from servers and stored on a user’s device when they visit websites. Cookies allow internet shoppers to use online shopping baskets and provide businesses with useful information about the internet traffic visiting their website. However, if you run a website which uses cookies, you need to ensure that you are not falling foul of EU law.

It is necessary to obtain a user’s consent before most kinds of cookies can be placed on their computer. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has made clear that implied consent will be adequate in most cases and therefore it is generally accepted that a clear and prominent notice on a website about cookies combined with the user’s continued use of a site is sufficient to indicate consent. This kind of notice may not, however, be appropriate in every case. The more intrusive the cookie, the more meaningful and well informed the user’s consent should be and the more likely the need for the express acceptance of your use of specific cookies by the user.

The ICO has a number of enforcement powers available to it in relation to cookies. These powers include fines of up to £500,000. Though the ICO is yet to fine an organisation for its use of cookies it is important, nevertheless, to periodically:

review what cookies are used on your website;

check whether you have appropriate methods in place to obtain a user’s consent to your use of cookies; and

ensure you have full and understandable information about your use of cookies and the consequences of the user giving their consent to your use of cookies displayed prominently on your website.

If you would like advice about cookies or any other IT related issues, please contact the IP/IT team at Pannone.

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