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EU Regulation on “cookies” to be more strictly enforced in May 2012

Prior to May 2011, the owners of UK websites were legally permitted to set up a system whereby small data files called “cookies” could be automatically installed onto the hard drive of the computers of any visitors (to the website).  These cookies record the on-line browsing activities of the visitor – both for the essential purpose of facilitating certain transactions (such as the sale of a product), and for the less essential purpose of targeted advertising.

On 25 May 2011, however, the UK implemented new EU Regulations which essentially require the consent of the consumer/ website user before a cookie is installed on his/her computer. The Regulations recognise the fact that certain information needs to be retained in order for an on-line transaction to take place.  Therefore it qualifies the rule by applying it to any personal information which is not “strictly necessary”.

The UK authorities allowed for a 12-month “grace period” which is due to end on 26 May 2012, which means that a breach of the new law could mean a monetary penalty – and in some cases even a criminal prosecution, if deemed serious.

Of course, Off To See My Lawyer adapted its template Privacy Policy in time for 25 May 2011, and we have been advising our clients accordingly – so existing clients need not be concerned about the end of the 12-month “grace period”.  For any prospective clients, however, please contact Jo Tall at jo@offtoseemylawyer.com for advice on how to comply with this E-privacy law.

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