In May 2011, a European Union (EU) Directive was adopted by all EU member countries to protect consumer privacy online. In the UK, the rules on cookies are covered by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The Regulations were revised in 2011, and the ICO is responsible for enforcing these rules.
- Inform users if they are using browser cookies
Browser cookies are small text files which are downloaded to your computer device when visiting particular websites. They are almost always harmless and serve to enhance the visitor experience. Here are some typical reasons for websites using cookies:
- To remember who you are, so you don’t have to keep entering your account username or email address every time you visit a favourite website
- To assist with the collection of data, for statistical purposes (e.g. with Google Analytics)
- To store items in a ‘shopping cart/basket’ as you browse a website for more products to buy
How to meet the requirements
Why are they called cookies?
There are several theories for where the name originates. We like the Hansel and Gretel Cookie theory which also makes it easier to understand what cookies do. In the famous fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel left a cookie trail behind (well actually, it was breadcrumbs) as they made their way through a dark forest; this way they could easily see where they had been, just as a browser cookie records a user’s activity on your website. Unfortunately, in the story, birds ate the crumbs up and they ended up lost anyway! Visit the Cookie Controller website for more information about cookies and the different theories behind the terminology.
If your website needs to comply with regulations on browser cookies, speak to your web designer about implementation.