Solutions to the EU Cookie Law for your website

Solutions to the EU Cookie Law for your website

By Luke on May 18, 2012

So as you may or may not be aware, the EU cookie directive that was issued last year regarding cookies on websites (known as the Cookie Law) will become enforced as of the 26th May 2012. The law requires complete transparency on the cookies used on a website. If a site uses cookies (as over 90% of websites do!) then they are expected to inform the visitor, and give them the option to opt in. Whether or not you comply with the new law is entirely up to the website owner, however if you are found in breach of the new regulation you could be subject to £500,000.00 fine. You can find out more information about this in our previous post on the Cookie Law.

The solution is that you need to provide a cookie notice, and a link to page providing information on the cookies used. Ideally you can also supply information as to how to disable cookies in your browser. ICO, the Information Commissioner’s Office, are enforcing the law so we have used their website as the best practice example. When you visit their website, you will see the following notice at the top of the page:

ico cookie notification

Accepting this will stop the message from showing, and confirm that you’re happy to stay on the site. Their privacy policy details their use of cookies.

How do I know if my site uses cookies?

A lot of website owners are probably unaware of whether they use cookies or not. If you have a simple static website, then chances are that you might be okay. However, it is worth checking with your web design company or whoever built your site to check this. If you use a Content Management System or web platform such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento etc then you will definitely use cookies of some sort. Additionally, if your site has analytics installed you will also be using cookies. As an example, take a look at our cookie policy here:

SEO Creative Cookie Policy.

Ok, so I think I use cookies. What do I do now?

What other companies have done

This is up to you, but we have provided some possible solutions as well as looking at what other companies have done in order to comply. The most simple solution seems to be a visible link from every page of the site to a cookie information page. I’m not 100% sure if this is enough, but this seems to be what has been done by a number of large organisations. For example, here is John Lewis’s website:

john lewis cookie solution

It took me a while to find this, so I have highlighted it in red.

A quick fix

cookie control plugin

This seems quite invasive, but a lot of companies have been using a cookie control plugin. This is a popup notification that appears near the bottom left hand corner of the visitors screen. The great thing about this plugin is that is relatively quick to install and configure, and it works across a number of platforms, including popular OpenSource systems such as WordPress and Magento. For quick compliance and low cost, this would be my first recommendation in order to be compliant by the 26th May deadline.

A bespoke option

We’ve based our solution on the ICO website. As mentioned these guys are enforcing the law, so I’m taking their website as the best case example to ensure that our site is compliant. This is a bespoke option that took a bit more time to design and develop, but in my opinion is the best option. You can see it below:

bespoke cookie solution

A super mega option

Some larger organisations are obviously taking this very seriously, as they should. This is because large organisations are likely to be the first targeted by ICO to see if they have complied with the regulations. As a result, some much more comprehensive solutions are appearing. A great example has been done by BT. See a screenshot from their website footer below:

bt cookie solution

When you first visit the BT website, a popup appears informing you of the new functionality. You will then notice a number of green boxes showing the cookies that are currently active, which include essential cookies (to make the site work), non-essential cookies and tracking cookies. If you click on the settings link, you then have the option to change your settings using a nice drag and drop interface:

bt cookie settings popup

Very impressive. This seems a lot less intrusive, and being bespoke you have complete control over the design so integration is much nicer. To find out more and to discuss possible solutions for your site, contact us.