The EU directives cover all online electronic data storage, not just cookies, but cookies are causing the biggest noise. The law requires informed consent from site visitors before cookies are set, potentially stalling traffic to the site. Newcastle-based web design agency Kino Creative have commissioned a series of articles suggesting ways for SMEs to comply while explaining the cookie laws, which Ann Winter has summarised for Bdaily.
How do your cookies crumble? Step one: audit your website.
Until 2010 when the EU cookie directives came into force, “cookie” was a cute name for pieces of programming only really understood by web masters and coders. With the stalled UK legislation due to come into force on May 25th 2012, 54% of online marketers have carried out a cookie audit on their sites, according to Econsultancy.
If that’s not you, read on! Cookies break down into three types, some of which are exempt from the law.
1. First party cookies… you set these on your site to store data and track the user experience. Log-ins, shopping baskets, and some security cookies (eg to enable payment gateways) are considered essential to the service requested by the user and therefore exempt. Emails, customers’ personal data, any data collection tools used for analytics or advertising revenue are not. See my upcoming post on how to get site users to opt in to these features.
2. Third party cookies… you embed these from external sources to track users or offer extra functionality, for example video, ecommerce gateways, clickable ads, or analytics software. Again, informed consent must be gained before these cookies are set.
3. Flash cookies / Local Shared Object (LSO)... All sites using Adobe Flash store these cookies on site users’ computers. Even if you use third party software or Flash plug-ins, it’s your responsibility to get your site users to opt in before setting these cookies.
The cookies you use are essential to the success of your current business model, if not, in the legal definition, “essential to the service requested by the user”. So how can you get site users to opt in? See my upcoming post on maximising opt-in requests.
Next in this series: Maximising opt in requests.