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The EU Cookie Directive, are you ready? Croud answers all your last minute questions!3 min read

3 min read

The EU Cookie Directive is coming into effect next week and love it or hate it, there is no running away from this regulation. Is your website prepared for the changes?

We have put together this post to give you as much as information you need to prepare for the changes.

What is the EU Cookie Directive?

Cookies are simple text files that allow websites to identify users. They also improve user experience by remembering preferences such as language or personal data.  Identifying users is essential for all e-commerce sites. However, because they can also be used to track users across the internet, they raise privacy concerns, which are the basis of this law.

When is it going to be implemented?

On the 26th May, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) requires all websites that use cookies within the EU, to notify their users of exactly what the cookies are used for, thus being as transparent as possible.

The law was actually introduced last year, but due to infeasible technical demands, the ICO, granted a one year grace period in order to effect changes to websites. This is an opt-in process, and must be completed by the user before any cookies are set.

Who is going to have to comply with it?

The law applies to all member countries within the European Union. The law also applies to websites outside of the EU if they are targeting these countries. For example, if your website operates in Canada and sells products to France or has a French language version of the site, they will need to comply with it.

Why has the Directive come to place?

The aim of this legislation is to increase online security and data privacy, giving a user control on how much data they are willing to share.

How is it going to affect you if not implemented?

Essentially, this means the opt-in message should be displayed as soon as users land on your website. If you don’t comply with these regulations, the fine is up to £500,000.

Our recommendations to comply with the regulations:

  • Understand it: Croud recommends that you liaise with your development team as soon as possible to understand and implement the required changes. We expect the opt-in notification to negatively affect conversion rates, but we do foresee this returning to normal as users across the EU get used to these messages.
  • Precise and detailed auditing: Croud highly recommends checking each and every page of your website, how they are linked with personal data, what purpose is the cookie being used for, how long are they going to last and whether it applies to only one session, is it 1st or 3rd party and remove any sort of tracking that you really don’t need.
  • Develop a policy: A further recommendation would be to develop a ‘cookie policy’ page which details the reasons why your site uses cookies, what it allows you to do and probably most importantly the myths regarding cookie usage. You’ll need to make absolutely clear to users what cookies are being used, what they’re being used for, and asking for consent. With this page you’re helping to educate the user as to why you are utilising cookies and removing some of the ‘voodoo’ and bad press around them.

We strongly recommend reading Econsultancy’s article about the different approaches brands including Debenhams, BBC News and Ebay have taken when it comes to implementing the law. In the screenshot above, you can see BT are using a popup window, or Modal Dialogue box, to comply with the law. The Econsultancy article discusses the pros and cons to using either a status bar, warning bar and Modal dialogue box.
Photos courtesy of BT/Website and compujeramey/Flickr.