Posted by: Nick Vitale

10 May 2012

Preparing For The ICO Cookie Law

Skylab is hiring!

You may be familiar with the impending changes to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), set forth originally in May 2011 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). In simple terms, websites are required to ask users to ‘opt-in’ before cookies are placed on their computers.

On the face of it, this seems like a simple request but for website owners the implications are far reaching. Cookies are a critical component of the digital toolkit. The following services all rely on cookies:

  • Google Analytics
  • Social share buttons
  • Shopping carts
  • Ads

Although we can appreciate the good intentions set out in the directive, it’s our view that the technology simply isn’t ready for the law to be fairly implemented.

Rather than hit you with chapter and verse on the subject we’ve found this short (tongue-in-cheek) video which covers the dilemma for website owners.

So What Now?

This is certainly going to be an interesting space to watch over the coming months as browser manufacturers and technology vendors play catch-up with the law. We’re already beginning to see interesting solutions to the problem but it will take time for any widely accepted standards to emerge.

For website owners the first step is to develop a clear strategy that will enable practical and cost-effective steps towards compliance. The strategy should consider the following items.

  1. Perform an audit
    1. Identify which cookies are operating on or through your website
    2. Confirm the purpose of each cookie
    3. Evaluate the intrusiveness of each cookie and therefore which cookies fall ‘within’ the law
  2. Decide on a solution
    1. How do you want to communicate cookie usage to your audience and what options do you need to give them?
    2. Understand the impact:
      1. On your audience and their experience of your website
      2. On your technology stack, including your content management system and any third party software
      3. On your business and the commercial implications
  3. Plan and implement
    1. Adapt your site to meet the the regulations set out by the ICO and communicate your plan with your audience

If you’re concerned or want more information on how we plan to handle upcoming ‘Cookie Law’ changes, please get in touch with us via email or on Twitter @studioskylab and we’ll happily explain how we can develop a bespoke strategy for your website to bring it in line with this new legislation.


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