EU Cookie Law Implied Consent

Well done to the EU! In a time of austerity with countries going bankrupt the bureaucrats in Brussels have made it even more difficult to sell on-line by imposing a frankly silly law; You must now get explicit consent to use cookies!

99% of users don’t even know what a cookie is or what it does… Good for privacy… Maybe… Bad for business… Definitely.

The law is now in place as of May 2012, so if you haven’t looked into this perhaps it is time to! It seems the UK Government has given sites a bit of time to implement this even beyond the May deadline. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said it won’t be prosecuting until the new rules have had time to bed in. This of course has nothing to do with the fact the deadline has gone and 95% of sites haven’t done a thing yet!

FYI, non-compliance apparently will have a fine of up to £500,000 / site, but as with most internet issues I don’t know how much of this is actually able to be policed! But maybe it will corner the unscrupulous sites and give the EU new powers of prosecution, whilst giving everyone else a ball-ache!

Thankfully in the UK the government has modified the law at the last minute, from the EU’s Explicit Consent to a watered down version, which is basically called Implied Consent. 

To comply with the original Explicit Consent EU cookie law you must now have a popup basically saying “Here Be Dragons, Go Back!” How many people will run scared and click off! IMHO this will have a massive effect on traffic as all you will need is a few competitors not complying with the law and you are giving them traffic.

Also I spoke to a friend of mine who runs a couple of sites in France about this issue and told him what I thought he should do, his response put it into perspective for me “Vince, they are still trying to stop people drink driving here!” Does anyone really think that countries will harm their own businesses at a time like this. The French and Germans will wheedle their way out of prosecuting their own business. Only in the UK do we naturally feel obliged to play by the rules, hence the watered down version of the law, it allows us to play by the rules by making compliance easier and without risking businesses.

For the UK’s version of implied consent all you need to do is to clearly notify the user that cookies are in use have a link to a privacy policy page going into greater detail about which cookies you use, you then imply that the user has chosen to use you site even given the cookies that are in use. A pragmatic solution, at least for now until the EU make us get into line with them. My Euroscepticism is coming out here…

After researching and playing with a few plug-ins the solution I like is Cookie Control as its easy to implement and does everything you need to comply with the UK version of the law. It even has a WordPress plugin – so I’ve already used it on 10 sites, but even better it has a Magento plugin so all my eCommerce sites are easily covered! (Check it out in action at the bottom right of this page)

FYI, I’m not 100% sure of all the facts of this as there is so much written about it, all I’m trying to do is to boil it down and make it more palatable for people – essentially I’m just trying to cover my ass 🙂

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