Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cookies - enforcement is now a real possibility

Cookies – “enforcement” now a real possibility
According to the latest press release from the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office )..
“The rules on cookies are covered by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The Regulations also cover similar technologies for storing information eg Flash Cookies.  The Regulations were revised in 2011 and the ICO is responsible for enforcing these new rules...”
The ICO gave a “reprieve” period of one year from when the Amendment came into force – 26 May 2011 – for organisations to address how they may comply with the rules, using ICO published Guidance.  So – in theory – from last Saturday (26 May 2012) you could be in line for a fine up to £1000 for non-compliance if you have not – in line with the Guidance – conducted an audit of your website to see if you utilise cookies; assessed the extent of privacy intrusion and found a method of consent request if necessary (again in line with the Guidance) and appropriately amended your website Privacy Policy.  If you ask your web developer for help and he/she “obstructs” you, they too could be in line for a £1000 fine.
The author was alarmed to hear on national radio on Saturday that fines up to £500,000 were being quoted.  I have spent 6 months carefully reviewing the ICO guidance and can find no mention of anything higher than £1000 – which is bad enough if you are a small enterprise!
You should also be aware that ICO have developed a “tool” by which the public can report websites they don’t believe to be complaint with the new cookies rules.  Anyone can block cookies from being put on their equipment using their browser settings, but this is not necessarily a good thing as cookies can prove useful to the web visitor as well as for the web owner..
If you want to find out more, then why not get in touch...

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