Cookie Tracking Deadline Approaches

Recent research has indicated that many UK based organisations have not yet fully comprehended the upcoming computer legislation according to the BBC Technology News website.

The worrying aspect in reading this is that independent research suggests UK based organisations have not digested the upcoming computer cookie law. According to an independent study there are on average 14 tracking tools per webpage on the UK’s most popular sites. Privacy solutions provider Truste suggests this means that a user typically encounters up to 140 cookies and other trackers while browsing a single site. The research was published less than 40 days before strict rules come into effect governing cookie use. The study was carried out in March and covered the UK’s 50 most visited organisations.

The vast majority of tracking cookies analysed belonged to third-parties, usually advertisers, rather than the site’s owner.  Whilst it is not illegal to track users activity on a website, the question is are website owners providing the website users with the level of awareness about how the data is used.

The new EU directive designed to protect internet users’ privacy comes into forces on 26 May. Essentially the law says that sites must provide “clear and comprehensive” information about the use of cookies. The law says that website managers must:

  • Tell people that the cookies are there
  • Explain what the cookies are doing
  • Obtain visitors’ consent to store a cookie on their device

What is a cookie

Cookies are small files that allow a website to recognise and track users. The Information Commissioners Office categorises these into 3 groups:

  • Session Cookies
  • Persistent Cookies
  • First and third party Cookies

Session cookies

This type of cookie allows a site to link the actions of a visitor during a single browser session. These might be used by a site that requires a user to login to the site for authentication purposes, the use of the cookie means that the user does not need to authenticate on each and every webpage. typical uses of this type of cookie include internet banking or webmail services. These are not stored long term and are considered “less privacy intrusive” than persistent cookies.

Persistent cookies

These remain on the user’s device between sessions and allow one or several sites to remember details about the visitor. They may be used by marketers to target advertising or to avoid the user having to provide a password each visit.

First and third-party cookies

A cookie is classed as being first-party if it is set by the site being visited. It might be used to study how people navigate a site. It is classed as third-party if it is issued by a different server to that of the domain being visited. It could be used to trigger a banner advert based on the visitor’s viewing habits.

Compliance

In order to become compliant the webmaster needs to make it clear the use for cookies on the site, this gives the users the opportunity to opt out. The most common method o doing this is on a privacy policy on the website.

For more help contact AHB Information Technology Solutions.

External Links

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17745938

http://www.ico.gov.uk/

http://www.truste.com/

Disclaimer:
These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and are not endorsements of any products or services in such sites, and no information in such site has been endorsed or approved by us. These third party sites may also contain opinions and viewpoints of third parties that do not necessarily coincide with our opinions and viewpoints. These sites will also have privacy policies different than our policy.

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