Cabinet Office admits many Government department websites will fail to comply with amendment to PECR
The 'cookie' directive that UK companies and organisations must comply with, is soon to be enforced, but many websites, including those belonging to Government departments are not ready.
The Cabinet Office admitted that many Government sites will not meet the 26 May deadline when the amendment to the Privacy and Electronic Communications regulations PECR) comes into effect.
It said in a statement that "Department websites are actively working to achieve compliance at the earliest possible date. We understand that the expectation from the Information Commissioner's Office is that organisations both public and private sector need to demonstrate that they are moving towards compliance."
Cookies are small files that are created whenever a person visits a website. They are usually benign and help deliver better services to visitors of a website.
However, they can also be used to track people's purchases, the ads they read and even browsing history, which concerns privacy experts.
However, from the end of this month companies cannot download cookies to people's PCs unless they have ‘express consent'.
The only exception is if a cookie is "strictly necessary" for the provision of a service "explicitly requested" by the user. Companies will also have to give information on how the data collected will be used.
Although the changes to PECR came into force last year, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) implemented as 12-month grace period; this is because it realised that there would be no ‘one size fits all approach', which will work for every website.
Despite culture minister Ed Vaizey saying last May that businesses shouldn't be forced to get prior ‘express consent, the ICO also said at the same time it would note if websites were not compliant; and where necessary take action.
The privacy watchdog said it would not be actively looking for transgressors, relying instead on complaints and said it plans to put a form online through which people can do this.
"We will keep a record of all the complaints we receive and use this information to decide where best to focus our attention in terms of further guidance and enforcement," it said.
The ICO also plans an educational programme to inform consumers about the new law and cookies.
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