We have been aware of it for almost a one year, but unfortunately the lawyers in EU headquarters are not changing their minds as we secretly hoped. The new EU data cookies law will be effective from 26th of May 2012 in the UK, but very rare companies have done something about it. Now we only have two months left.
What is a Data Cookie?
The reason why cookies are so important for companies is the statistics and results they provide. These allow website owners to analyze the data and take actions to optimize the website performance. Marketers also need the results to justify the digital investment for the top management and investors.
What is the New EU Data Cookies Law?
The European Union Cookie law – or the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 – was created to assure that website users have a choice whether the website can collect their information or not.
It means that cookies or similar devices must not be used unless the website subscriber or user:
(a) is provided with clear and comprehensive information about the purposes of the storage of, or access to, that information; and
(b) has given his or her consent.
However, device finger printing as a way of user identification is allowed.
What does the EU data cookies law signify for companies?
From May 26th 2012 companies must inform users about the cookies on their website, what the cookie is doing and ask actively users permission to use that cookie. Besides websites, devices like mobile phones, internet-connected TVs and gaming consoles require the same level of compliance.
How this is done in real life without spoiling the user experience? Well, that is a good question.
There are however few options, such as:
- Modal dialogue box, which explains in detail what cookies are on the site and what they do. It is shown as a layer and does not allow user to interact with the site until they opt-in or opt-out
- Status bar, which appears in the top or bottom of the page. It informs users that cookies are used on the site and user needs to opt-in or opt-out to close it.
- Warning bar, which appears every time the website wants to use a cookie asking user to either accept or decline it.
Whatever you do, it is not worth waiting for 26th May 2012 to see what competitors are doing or you might risk a 500,000£ fine. It is better to start thinking and experimenting with AB testing now before it is too late. Of course usually the government does not act until someone complains – but do you really think that some of your competitors would not be happy to tip you off?