Legal insight for journalists from one of the UK's leading legal trainers

Web editors beware: the cookie crackdown has begun

 

 

Web editors beware – the long-awaited crackdown on illegal cookies on websites has begun.

The Information Commission has written to more than 100 sites after receiving complaints from the public.

Most complaints were about sites that use implied consent mechanisms, rather than provide a tick-box which give users the opportunity to opt out of receiving cookies.

There were other complaints about lack of cookie information and over sites that automatically place cookies in users’ browsers as soon as they land on a site.

The ICO received has received 338 complaints about 207 individual websites since it started enforcing the E-Privacy Directive (2002/58/ EC).

It carried out an initial inspection of each site and then wrote to 106 of them, telling them about the complaint and asking the site operator to make sure they stuck to the rules in future.

One site admitted it had not taken any steps to ensure compliance and has been given a deadline to sort things out.

The warnings show the ICO means business and will respond to complaints from website users in future.

It has the power to fine websites up to £500,000 but would only act if a site refused to cooperate or used cookies that were a serious breach of privacy. Any action has to be proportionate to the risk to the consumer.

Cleland Thom is a trainer and consultant in media law

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