Cookie safeguards essential for business, marketing boss argues
The revised European Union Privacy and Communications Directive
- the so-called Cookie Law - is about to come into force in the
A key element replaces the opt-out provision with an obligation
for website owners to gain informed consent for the use of
A cookie is a text file downloaded on to a PC the first time a
website is visited. It can track your journey through the site and
inform the site when or if you return so it can tailor your
Common uses are shopping carts, or sites such as the BBC's which
allow you to personalise the content.
The implications are potentially huge. For example, after
following its own guidance, the Information Commissioner's Office
saw a 90% drop in recorded traffic after asking visitors if it
could use the Google Analytics cookie.
However, for the vast majority of internet users, the term
"cookie" has negative connotations and is clearly not widely
My advice to marketers and website owners is not only to
undertake an audit to make sure your website is compliant, but also
make the case as to why you are using cookies and the benefits they
Examples of best practice can be found on the BBC and Guardian
websites. Both list cookies with an explanation of what they do and
the implications of disabling them.
The government is committed to "pragmatic implementation," or
protecting privacy whilst not disrupting usability. The
consequences for businesses failing to comply are huge, with the
penalty for flagrant flouting £500,000 per website.
This is something no company can afford to ignore.
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