EU cookie law update - ICO adopts 'softly, softly' approach

The deadline for compliance with EU cookie laws is fast approaching, and at the 11th hour the ICO has changed its stance on policing the new regulations. We take a look at the implications.

At the 11th hour for compliance with the new EU cookie laws, and in light of the confusion around what they mean and the likely non-compliance of major organisations including the Government, the ICO has effectively performed a U-turn over its policing of the new regulations. Instead of taking measures against sites which do not comply with the raft of new rules surrounding cookies, it has now stated that it will adopt a ‘softly, softly’ approach, offering guidance instead of issuing sanctions.

According to reports, and in a marked change to previous communications, the ICO has insisted that 26th May is not a deadline, rather an attempt to focus companies’ attention on their use of cookies.

To back up their revised stance, Dave Evans, Group Manager for the ICO, stated: ‘What we want is good compliance, not rushed compliance. If it's focused people's minds, that's a good thing.’

A number of companies, the BBC and BT included, have responded to the ambiguity surrounding the regulations by complying with the spirit rather than the letter of the law, assuming consent to cookies unless users actively opt out.

It will be interesting to see how implementation of this legislation – which is already proving cumbersome to monitor and regulate – pans out over the next few months. The ICO will have its work cut out demonstrating that the new rules are anything other than unwieldy and, ultimately, ineffective.

This blog post was written by Steph

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