In May 2011 an EU law was passed dubbed the ‘EU cookie law’, the legislation requires websites to request permission from users before storing chunks of information called ‘cookies’.

What is a cookie?

Besides delicious snacks – cookies are small text files which websites store on users computers. Cookies are usually stored in order to remember the user and their preferred settings to provide a better user experience.

For instance, cookies are what usually keep you logged into a website or remember your settings on certain sites.

Cookies provide vital statistics to website owners. If you own a website, your site most probably uses cookies. If you use Google analytics, this works using cookies.

So what is this cookie law about?

Even though the cookie law came out last year, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) gave website owners the deadline of May 2012 to implement the rules. Websites which have not yet implemented these rules could be fined up to £500,000.

If you have not yet implemented the rules, here is what you have to do:

You need to make clear to users that you will be storing cookies on their computer and accept what cookies are. They will need to agree to this. Unfortunately, you cannot just bury this in your terms and conditions. It needs to be in the face of users – almost literally.

Most websites (including ours) use a pop-up notifying customers that our website stores cookies, and giving an explanation. The user then can press accept and continue using the website, or exit if they decline.


ICO Guidance on new cookie regulations (PDF)



List of free wordpress EU cookie law plugins

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