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News - 24 May 2012

Have you heard about the new “Cookie Law”?

Cookies are pieces of personal data stored when users browse the web, sometimes to power advertising, and from Sunday 27 May, sites must obtain "informed consent" from visitors before saving cookies on a machine.

The rules are designed to tackle privacy issues resulting from the growing use of cookies which track users' browsing habits.

The guidelines, set by the EU, mean visitors must be told what cookies are being placed on their machine.

The BBC, which brought its site in line with the guidelines on Thursday, allows users to opt out of cookies the first time they visit the website.

An Ipsos MORI poll, commissioned by privacy solutions provider Truste, suggested that while 84% of online consumers aged 16-64 were aware of internet cookies, just 24% knew about the new guidelines.

The owners of non-compliant websites face fines of up to £500,000, but the ICO has played down the threat of such serious action, telling the BBC it would take a soft approach to enforcement.

Types of Cookies

Cookies are small files that allow a website to recognise and track users. The ICO groups them into three overlapping groups:

Session cookies
Files that allow a site to link the actions of a visitor during a single browser session. These might be used by an internet bank or webmail service. They are not stored long term and are considered "less privacy intrusive" than persistent cookies.

Persistent cookies
These remain on the user's device between sessions and allow one or several sites to remember details about the visitor. They may be used by marketers to target advertising or to avoid the user having to provide a password each visit.

First and third-party cookies
A cookie is classed as being first-party if it is set by the site being visited. It might be used to study how people navigate a site.
It is classed as third-party if it is issued by a different server to that of the domain being visited. It could be used to trigger a banner advert based on the visitor's viewing habits.

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Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds.marketing@netaccountants.net

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