The Information Commissioner has announced the results of initial enforcement activity related to the Cookie Law, which came into full force in May.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the body responsible for enforcing the law, which was created following a directive from the EU. The idea is that any website using cookies should tell visitors about them and give them the opportunity to refuse them. In reality, the ability for most websites to literally not serve any cookies until requested would be impossible to achieve, so the ICO announced in May that companies could comply by at least making it clear to users that cookies are in use and explaining how to block them. (See How to comply with the EU Cookie Law.)
Cookie law enforcement update
Now, the ICO has announced the results of its activities to date in dealing with complaints and contacting non compliant sites.
In its report, the ICO says, “During May 2012 we wrote to 68 popular websites. We asked what steps they had taken, or were taking, to achieve compliance with the new Regulations. 88% of those organisations responded indicating they were fully compliant or working towards compliance.” Of these sites, 24 “appeared to have taken limited steps to make users aware cookies are in use and obtain consent”, while 44 had “taken steps to make users aware cookies are in use and obtain consent”.
The ICO does not define what it considers the difference between “taking steps” and “taking limited steps”.
It also reports that, since May 25th, 388 complaints were received about 207 websites. This compares with 3,646 complaints in September alone about unwanted marketing communications, so the cookie complaints are low. However, the ICO suggests this may be related to websites not promoting awareness well enough, so it says, “Our focus will be on sites not taking steps to raise awareness of cookies and obtaining consent, and any action we take will be proportionate to the risk to consumers.”
Of the 207 sites that were complained about, the ICO conducted a “visual review” and recorded the following figures:
- 90 appeared to have taken steps
- 68 appeared to have taken limited steps
- 48 appeared to have taken no steps
- 1 was inaccessible
You can read the ICO’s report here.