For most, the Cookie Monster is a rather cool character from Sesame Street who has a slightly amusing voice. However for anyone working within the digital sector this character has taken on a whole new form.
If you are wondering what it’s all about and haven’t really taken much notice, now is the time to sit-up and listen.
The EU Cookie Directive is all about recording of users behaviours online. Or, more to the point it is designed to stop websites from recording what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.
What is a Cookie?
A cookie is essentially a piece of data that is sent from a website and stored in our web browser while you are browsing a website. Initially its use was to actually benefit users, so that they could visit a website and retrieve data on that website more quickly when visiting again. The website would remember the state of your website and activity when you’d previously visited it. Things that this may have included would be logging in or a record of what pages you’d visited.
However, when it comes to third-party tracking cookies and tracking cookies generally, these ended up being used to record long-term records of your browsing history, hence it became a privacy concern. After all, why should you have information recorded about you when you visit a dictionary site?
The up-shot is that the EU decided enough was enough and brought in the EU cookie law which essentially would make website owners tell users that cookies were being used on the site, giving them the facts up-front.
Then, if a user didn’t want their activities recorded, they could simply leave the site.
However, it’s important to note that this is not an ‘option’ but a law with penalties for sites that do not comply to it.
In fact, you can actually get fined up to half a million pounds if you don’t adhere to the new law, which officially came in to effect on May 26th 2011, but a year of grace was given to allow website owners enough time to amend their websites.
So now over a year later, the law is officially in force and you should not take it lightly.
- Any commerce website
- Any website that has a log-in
- Any website that utilises certain types of coding
- Any website with a contact form
- Any website that requires a sign-up
The list is very, very long and we could go on forever, but if you have any of these sites and are not currently displaying that you are using cookies, you need to act now as you are breaking the law.
If you have got cookies, as long as you tell people then you are within the law and you have quite a few options in relaying the information.
So, whether it’s a line on the front page if you’re using Google Analytics that tells people you’re using cookies and what it means, or you think you might want something a bit more sophisticated, take a look at your site today and make sure you’re not breaking the law!