An EU regulation will force companies to gain consent from users before placing cookies on their computer
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has published guidance that will enable UK businesses and organisations to comply with the new law on using cookies.
Cookies are text files that are downloaded to your PC when you visit certain websites. They contain information about the a user's behaviour site.
Currently, organisations and businesses have to tell people that their websites are using cookies and give the reason for the collection of data and how the cookies are used.
The amendment to the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which comes into force on 26 May, says that consent now has to be obtained from the user or subscriber before placing a cookie on their PC.
Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: "The advice we've issued today should help businesses and organisations to get on the road to compliance in a way that causes them – as well as UK consumers – minimal disruption."
The issue of using cookies and maintaining privacy has been debated for a number of years. Although cookies are generally benign and useful files placed on a person's PC when they visit a website, the fact that they can track purchases and websites visited has concerned privacy experts. Some companies also sell the information they gather to other companies.
The amendment to PECR forces companies to be more transparent. UK businesses and organisations running websites in the UK now have to get what is called informed consent from visitors to their websites before placing cookies on their PCs in order to store and retrieve information.
"The implementation of this new legislation is challenging and involves significant technological considerations. That's why we have 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," said Graham.
The privacy watchdog said that is also drafting guidelines explaining to consumers how the amendment to the regulations will affect them.
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