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Is the cookie law directive dead or will it go global?

January 03, 2013 at 11:30 AM


by Mikul Patel

Digital Marketing Consultant at Matraxis

The EU cookie directive has certainly divided a lot of opinions and done nothing to soften the strained relationship between IT professionals and politicians in the UK. Some say the law is necessary to ensure website visitors understand what type of information is collected about them, whilst others claim such information to be confusing and pointless.


Taking it to the extreme, a bold statement by Silktide.com saw them openly criticise the cookie law through http://nocookielaw.com/; gaining exposure on the internet in the process on sites such as the BBC and Econsultancy. Bizarrely, the ICO tweeted back to the campaign by complementing how Silktide had made it clear that their website used cookies...and that they have taken the "1st steps on road to compliance. Well done".



ICO enforcement current statistics

cookie monster delete cookies

In a Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office, a Mr P Foomer requested some additional information of enforcement statistics. In summary:


  • 18 formal complaints about websites (between June 2011 and June 2012)
  • As of September 2012, 43 identified websites which had received more than one referral to the ICO via the reporting tool
  • 21 separate websites contact in May 2012 (of which 6 were contacted again late September 2012)
  • No prosecutions
  • No full-time dedicated staff handling enforcement


Source: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cookie_law_statistics


I think it is easy to say here that, unless you are a large organisation, the likelihood of being caught and cautioned is extremely unlikely. It appears you have to get multiple complaints against your organisation before the ICO even consider investigating.


Not the most full proof solution, this approach also leaves open the possibility of competition reporting against each other out of malice…not ideally ethical but you never know on the internet!




Cookie law outside the EU

Other countries have seem to have adopted the 'let’s ignore this' approach. In a way this makes sense, if the EU directive is ever taken seriously and accepted, other nations may take note and adopt something similar.


This can be seen after The Register got in contact with The Australian Government Information Office (AGIMO), The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) and The Privacy Commissioner to conclude EU cookies Directive not entirely ignored down Canberra way.



Whilst it may seem that the cookie law is not relevant anymore, it is still good practise to conduct a cookie audit of your website to understand what information and cookies are being used. This can help speed up pages and remove unnecessary items.

Get in contact with Matraxis today to discuss the EU Cookie Directive and our services in auditing.

Tags: Cookie Law Eu Directive ICO
Category: Digital Governance

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