Cookies – an EU and ICO Directive

As you know we use Statcounter to track visitors to your website.  When someone visits your website a “Cookie” is placed in their computer, assuming they haven’t got cookies turned off in their browser.

A “Cookie” is a small piece of text that allows Statcounter to collect information relating to the way that the visitor navigates the site.  It does NOT search and transmit personal information.  Almost every website in the world has at least one cookie and the basic version which is deposited by the websites that we build collects only this statistical information.

There are other cookies that store your preferences, others than store your shopping cart until you checkout and others, which is where this Directive was originally aimed, that stores information about your shopping habits so that you can be “targeted” according to your likes and purchases on future visits.

In a nutshell the directive is saying that unless you’ve got a very good reason you shouldn’t use cookies and if you do you should give people the option to decline.

The silly thing is that if someone declines you need to place a cookie on their computer so that when they return, if you don’t they’ll get asked every time they visit the site.

The internet as we know it could not function without cookies. David Naylor has created an interesting (and worrying) example of the possible consequences of this Directive here.

Statcounter have responded here.

As yet we have not drawn any conclusion from this Directive other than to advise that your website should carry a Privacy Policy as a first step because at least that does explain to visitors what information is collected from them. If you’re not already registered under the Data Protection Act you should do so and make your Policy available on your website.

Further information on the Data Protection Act can be found on this blog at http://www.mh-p.info/?cat=14

Otherwise we await developments………..

This entry was posted in Data Protection Act, Websites. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *