Cookie Law – Things we’ve learned and why it pays to embrace the regulations

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Cookie Law is incredibly important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be scary. We break things down and clarify some truths to give you a better understanding of how cookies affect you and your website.

The term cookies often conjures up thoughts of something altogether more appetising and appealing than website regulations.

However your cookie policy and, crucially, how you communicate that policy is absolutely critical.

By not paying close attention to your cookie policy – and the Cookie Law that defines it – you could be at risk of significant reputational damage and be in breach of regulations.

That’s the heavy bit. The good news is that with a clear policy and a good grasp of yours and consumers’ rights, you should be able to get on with running your website and making it work hard for you. Ultimately, that’s why you invest so much time and money in it.

And let’s get one thing clear from the outset, at Koobr we’re no legal experts – what we are is a full-service marketing agency passionate about all things marketing and passionate about showcasing businesses in a great and positive light online. But we know that an effective and compliant cookie policy is an important part of that.

Demystifying the Cookie Monster Myth

So what is a cookie? The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the UK’s independent authority on upholding information rights and the body responsible for enforcing Cookie Law – offers the following definition:

“A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is downloaded on to your computer when you visit a website. Cookies are used by many websites and can do a number of things, e.g. remembering your preferences, recording what you have put in your shopping basket, and counting the number of people looking at a website”. You can read more from the ICO by  clicking here.

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A new Cookie Law came into force in the UK in May 2011 as part of an EU directive. Here in the UK, these laws were aligned with the existing Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

Again – we’re no legal experts and such laws, as you’d imagine, are pretty comprehensive. However in a nutshell, the law demands that websites gain consent from visitors to store and/or retrieve information on an electronic device – such as a desktop, laptop, or mobile.

Importantly, it also gives users the right to refuse the use of cookies should they wish.

In the words of, Cookie Law requires that:

  • When someone visits your website, you need to let them know that your site uses cookies
  • You need to provide detailed information regarding how that cookie data will be utilised
  • You need to provide visitors with some means of accepting or refusing the use of cookies in your site
  • If they refuse, you need to ensure that cookies will not be placed on their machine

While this may appear daunting, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, as we’ll discuss shortly, getting it right can create an added layer of trust between you and your customers and enhance reputation.

89% of UK consumers think that the EU cookie law is a positive step.

– Econsultancy

What’s equally important is to remember that, as with many laws, expectations in this regard are constantly evolving – so it really pays to keep up to date and ensure your website remains compliant.

For example, the introduction of GDPR in 2018 brought about the most significant data privacy changes in recent times; many of which relate to online/digital elements such as websites.

Further to this, the current EU directive outlined above is due to become an EU regulation at some point soon, most likely in 2020, having initially been drafted in 2017.

The shift from directive to regulation is significant as it will make cookie laws legally-binding, meaning that those falling foul could be hit with significant fines akin to GDPR.

Here at Koobr we’d like to share with you three Cookie Law-related observations we have discovered along the way:

It’s about transparency

Cookies can be beneficial to everyone. For the user, they can save time when browsing and save preferences. For the business, it’s a great way to gather data and analytics which can be crucial in understanding how your website is performing as well as customer behaviour.

So if there are benefits all round – be clear and open about it. Here at Koobr we have a pop-up which tells our site visitors that we use cookies and that we do so to distinguish them from other users and to enhance their experience.
Users can then accept or, if they require more information, load a page which makes it crystal clear how we use cookies, what our visitors’ rights are and how data is captured and used. You can view our page here.

Don’t make life difficult for the user

Don’t make your cookies policy a tick-box exercise that you begrudgingly do because you have to. Make sure your pop-up message is prominent and easily digestible when a user enters your site. Businesses should be confident of their message and their policy and, ultimately their commitment to the user – use as little jargon as possible and keep things simple.

Don’t give a visitor cause to be nervous due to your cookie policy being difficult to find and overly complex in its message.

If in doubt, seek guidance

None of us are experts in everything. You’re great at what you do but website development, maximisation and compliance might not necessarily be things you have great experience in – and let’s be honest, not all businesses have the luxury of being able to call on in-house departments/staff specialising in these areas.

However, they are crucial areas so if in doubt, seek advice and take advantage of those who live and breathe this area of business every day – as many of our customers have done with us.

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At Koobr we excel in making your business look good, your services appealing and ensuring you’re taking full advantage of the marketing mix and all the tools and tactics available to you.

But we’re also dab-hands at creating and building websites that look great with good functionality but are also, critically, compliant in a world of increasing cyber complexities and stringent regulations such as GDPR and Cookie Law.

Got a web project you want to get off the ground?

Get in touch and tell us all about it.

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