The EU cookie directive, or the EU cookie law as it is more commonly known, is a law that came into effect at the end of May 2012 that aims to improve data privacy and online security by giving internet users more control over what data can be held about them. The cookie law also concerns how our personal data is being used and held on the websites we visit.
The UK cookie law forces website owners to be more transparent about how they are using cookies, i.e. how long they hold cookies, what information is held – and it will also be a requirement for websites to request permission from visitors before their cookies can be used to improve website performance.
The law applies to all Member States of the European Union, but if a site based outside the EU is targeting visitors from inside the EU, they will also need to abide by the same laws.
The change in law will mean that practical changes need to be made to the website in order to make users aware of how to ‘opt-in’ to leaving cookies. Cookies also play an important part in storing user preferences such as the language that the site is shown in, and storing the items that users have added to their shopping basket.
Cookies are small text files that websites save to your computer, allowing the services those websites provide to be more reliable, easy to use, and useful. The cookies that are stored on your device by a website, be it a desktop computer or a mobile phone, do not contain any information that can be used to identify you personally. However, they do contain some information that is used by the website to improve your experience.
Here are some examples of how the information in cookies is used to improve the quality of service a website offers, or its general browsing experience, for you: