Guide to the Cookie Law
What is a Cookie?
Also known as browser cookies or tracking cookies, cookies are small, often encrypted text files, located in browser directories. They are used by web developers to help users navigate their websites efficiently and perform certain functions. Due to their core role of enhancing/enabling usability or site processes, disabling cookies may prevent users from using certain websites.
What is the law?
The vast majority of small websites don’t do this of course, but they do track visitors to their website, e.g. via a tool like Google Analytics, and they use social media plugins like Facebook Like buttons. As we will see, this law appears to outlaw all of this entirely.
What does this mean for websites?
No one wants to add this to their website, and most visitors are unlikely to be happy about it either.
Does this only affect websites hosted in the EU?
The location of your hosting is irrelevant, but the location of your organisation is not. Your organisation must fall within the legal jurisdiction of the EU. Each member state has their own laws, which are based on the same EU directive, but may differ slightly.
For most small/medium organisations, being located in the EU will mean you must comply.
Are all cookies affected?
The vast majority are – all cookies that are not “strictly necessary for a service requested by a user”.
The law allows an exception for “strictly necessary” cookies, such as those used to remember when something has been added to a shopping basket. These cookies would be expected by the user implicitly for the action they requested to be carried out. Another example would be login.