Tag Archives: privacy

Nearly all UK business websites now technically illegal (EU sites to follow)

On the 26th May the rules on the use of cookies changed for UK businesses. You now have to explicitly ask every visitor to your website if they want to opt-in to ‘non-essential’ cookies. This includes tracking and analytics cookies. The penalty for not doing so is a fine of up to £500,000.

No, I’m not joking (unfortunately). You can read some rather vague official guidance about it from the Information Commissioner’s Office here:

Changes to the rules on using cookies and similar technologies for storing information

You can also see the ICO’s implementation of this policy on their own website with the ghastly pop-up shown below (click to enlarge):

So it seems that we are going to have to show a hideous and scary pop-up to every visitor that comes to our site. Nearly all of these visitors will inevitably choose the less scary sounding default and opt-out (why would they opt-in?) which means that our precious tracking and analytic data will suddenly become a lot less useful. So a less pleasant user experience for customers and a huge reduction in useful data for vendors. And to what benefit? I really don’t mind if vendors collect aggregated data about how I arrived at their site or what pages I visit while I am there. The more I read about the new rules the less workable and useful they sound. It looks like the sort of monumental, fur-lined, ocean-going, balls-up that only governments are capable of.

The situation remains fluid at present. The introduction of this new law has been so shambolic that the UK government is giving businesses 12 months grace before they start enforcing it. I don’t even know if the ruling applies to businesses based in the UK, web servers based in the UK or any website with UK visitors (if you do know, please comment below). Perhaps Google et al will dream up a technical solution that keeps the EU happy without me having to make any changes to my website. Maybe pressure from businesses will force the government to back down. Perhaps someone will find a loophole (e.g. setting up a company outside the EU to host your website). Or maybe so many businesses will ignore this ridiculous law that it will be unenforceable. I am going to wait a few months to see how things play out.

This change in the law comes from an EU directive, so any of you reading this in EU countries other than the UK can stop smirking – it is coming your way as well.

For more information see:

(Photo by Delfi Jingles, some rights reserved)