Cookies: what’s happening out there?

Since the end of May, website users will have noticed a flurry of popups and banner messages inviting them to read (and in some cases agree to) information about how sites use cookies.

This has arisen as website owners finally get to grips with the new law on cookies and consent (see various previous posts), which requires websites to obtain consent from users before putting cookies on their computers of mobile devices.

Over the subsequent weeks, it seems a consensus has begun to emerge among websites as to how to inform users and obtain – or, more usually, infer – consent from users.

I wrote an article recently for the Guardian Media Network that gave some background to this. My firm has also just published a briefing note (PDF) which looks in more detail at how websites can show that users have consented to the use of cookies.

The briefing note refers readers to two essential guides for compliance: the Information Commissioner’s guidance (PDF) as issued at the end of May, and the International Chamber of Commerce’s guide (PDF) to the various types of cookie used by websites, and how to comply in respect of each.

The overall message, though, is: for most websites, especially those who avoid use of “targeting and advertising” cookies, compliance should be possible without having to infuriate your users with intrusive popups.

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