In May 2011 a new privacy law came into effect across the EU that requires all websites to ask visitors for consent to use web cookies. Webmasters were given a year to comply with this law.
The new law was put in place to help protect people’s privacy. For example, if you use Google to search for “shoes”, a cookie will be placed on your machine to remember this search. When you visit another website later, Google may target shoe related ads at you because they remember who you are.
When you consider the hundreds of searches you do on Google, you realise just how much they know about you as a result of your activity. If that scares you, you can mix up your searches by turning on your web browser’s private browsing option.
The cookie law has caused outrage as many webmasters considered how this would impact their sites. As a local authority owned business, we had no choice but to implement the law regardless.
In the end we complied using the implied consent route by placing a small text box on our site warning about cookies and linking to a page advising how to turn off cookies. This cost us nothing to implement, just a few hours of my time to write a policy and add it to our site. Good luck to anyone paying for an explicit consent system. Of course, I’ll be keeping an eye on any changes to the law, as it is so fickle.