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The EU Cookie law was introduced back in 2011 and brought into effect in the UK  in May 2012, resulting in lots of websites including intrusive Cookie information or opt-in bars along the top or bottom of their home pages. Scary gestures like potential fines of “up to £500,000” were banded around and anyone with responsibility for their companies website cried out for some kind of clarification on what the law meant for their company and how much it would cost to comply.

The ICO has now had a change of heart

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for policing the UK’s interpretation of the EU Cookie law and has recently removed their own Cookie bar from their website ico.org.uk. Thanks to the brilliant www.archive.org we can demonstrate exactly how the ICO’s website looked nearly a year ago when the law came into force – http://web.archive.org/web/20120502075414/http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Does this mean the EU Cookie law is no more and how could we interpret the ICO’s website update?

Well, the law is not going away and it is still very much in effect throughout Europe. However, the new ICO interpretation of the law (that they are still responsible for policing) suggests that as long as you have the information about what Cookies are used on your website in an easy(ish) to find position then you are complying with the law. For reference the ICO have placed their “Cookies” page in the footer of their website.

Final thoughts

In our experience the majority of internet users still do not know what a “Cookie” is and everyone we have spoken to have found the Cookie bars, popups and other permutations fairly irritating.

cookies in a jar

Ending on a positive note, it certainly seems like the ICO has – finally – got the balance right between ensuring that websites are as transparent as possible with their Cookie usage whilst not damaging design or hindering usability.

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