Will the upcoming EU cookie law affect my website?

Last updated: Tuesday January 31st 2012
Reading time: 3 minutes

Will the upcoming EU cookie law affect my website?

Whats a cookie?

Cookies are small pieces of information stored on your users web browsers, theyre commonly used to remember login dates, shopping cart contents and track analysis. However, some are used by advertising firms to build a profile of users as they use to internet to provide targeted advertising. Ask your web design company or web designer to look into this for you.On 26 May 2012, after being postponed for a year, the EU privacy directive comes in to force. It will require websites to ask users permission before storing a cookie on their browser. Cookies essential to the operation of the site are allowed, but cookies for analytical purposes or third-party advertising are unlikely to fall within exemption.

How does a site comply?

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) suggest using pop-ups or similar techniques such as message bars or a header bar to ask a user for permission. The ICO website uses a notice message at the top of the homepage, though the the text would scare most users off accepting. Once a user does accept, the page reloads and the user now has a cookie specifically to tell the server they have opted in, the server recognises this and the page then includes the Google Analytics snippet.

I use Google Analytics, do I need to rebuild my site?

Youre not alone, Google Analytics is used on around 60% of the top 10,000 sites on the internet. Whilst the ICO restricts the use of Google Analytics to those who have opted in, there are very few implementations on large sites as of yet. The Radio Times and Delia Online both show a popup telling their users theyre working on a user friendly way to obtain their consent.Theres no official word from Google either regarding the compatibility of Google Analytics cookies with the new regulations. So, keep an eye on the Google Analytics blog and group. But, unless youre using an ad network, or rank in the top 100 sites on the Internet its not worth worrying about just yet.

The stupid EU cookie law in 2 minutes


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About the author
Laurence

I am a 27-year-old WordPress web designer and SEO consultant based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK. I have designed and maintained sites with over 20,000 pages on large corporate websites, smaller small business sites, and tiny personal websites and blogs. I provide freelance WordPress web design services in my evenings and weekends and also work full time for a local design agency in Banbury. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and on Google+.