Website owners have one year to comply with EU cookies law which comes into effect on 26 May
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced that online companies have another 12 months to prepare their websites for the new EU cookie law that comes into effect in the UK on 26 May.
As the independent arbiter of information rights, the ICO has been charged with regulating the new rules for websites aimed at UK consumers.
Earlier, the ICO had warned companies not to take the law lightly, but had admitted that implementing such a law would be tough. Now, the regulatory body has said that though the law will be in effect from 26 May, it will be enforced next year.
Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham said, "Organisations and businesses that run websites aimed at UK consumers are being given up to 12 months to ‘get their house in order’ before enforcement of the new EU cookies law begins."
However, the ICO has warned that companies over the next year must prove that they are working towards compliance with the new law. And after the 12-month extension, companies could face fines of up to £500,000.
According to the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive "explicit consent" must be collected from Internet users who are being tracked via cookies.
The e-Privacy Directive was passed in Brussels in 2009. The law requires user’s consent before using cookies – the text files that help organise and store browsing information.
Last month, the ICO published a guidance advising website owners about the new cookie law, asking them to refrain using cookies without explicit user consent.
It had said that, from 26 May, when the new regulation will be in effect, website owners will have to get users to ‘opt in’ before downloading cookies onto their computers. They cannot rely on browser settings anymore.
The new rules will apply to mobile phones as well.
While publishing the guidance, Graham had said, "The implementation of this new legislation is challenging and involves significant technological considerations. That’s why we’ve already consulted a wide range of stakeholders.
"But we want to spread the net as wide as we can and would welcome further comments from others who have practical examples to share. This advice is very much a work in progress and doesn’t yet provide all of the answers."