Research done by KPMG and published in the Financial Times has found that the majority of British businesses are ignoring new regulations on using cookies.
The new laws were drawn up to increase people’s control over their own internet privacy. The changes have been designed specifically to alert web users to how sites are monitoring their browsing.
Cookies are pieces of data sent by websites and stored in a user’s browser. The EU regulators have broken cookies down into four different types including cookies that are ‘Strictly necessary’ for a website to function; those that help a site to monitor its ‘performance’ (including how many hits the site gets and how long people stay on the site); ‘functionality’-based cookies, which perform jobs such as remembering passwords; and ‘Targeting Cookies’, which collect information about users’ browsing habits – including those used by advertisers.
Some cookies are not at all malevolent and simply provide functional information to a site, but others track behaviours that users may not feel comfortable with sharing.
Online publications generally prefer that users allow the use of all cookies, so that they can target them more specifically with content, which pleases their advertisers, but many people may feel uncomfortable about being monitored online.
The FT report in conjunction with KPMG found that, of the 55 UK websites they analysed, only 20 per cent were complying with the EU privacy directive, which came into force on May 26. Breaches of the code could cost companies £500,000.
The EU has allowed a grace period for companies to integrate new functionality into their site to address the change in law, but that period comes to an end this weekend.
If you need information on making your site compliant, visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website (www.ico.gov.uk).