How the cookie law crumbled: IC backs away from tough action on non-compliant websites

Websites that do not provide adequate cookie consent forms are unlikely to get more than a warning, following a change in approach by the Information Commissioner.

The IC has backed away from the hard-line stance it adopted when new European cookie legislation was introduced in 2011, when it threatened to fine websites that did not comply.

The legislation means that website visitors have to give consent before cookies were stored on their computer. 

The IC has recently announced that  it now sees cookies as posing a low-level threat to consumers.  Its change of heart is due to receiving very few complaints about them.

The IC now writes to UK websites when it receives complaint about cookies, and reviews them every quarter. It has not fined any sites since the new legislation took effect.

Most media websites now use a system of implied cookie consent, which gives users the chance to opt out rather than tick a box to opt in. The IC uses this system itself.

Cleland Thom is a media law consultant and trainer

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