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Cookies Law - EC Directive 2011.

For more information on Cookies and the Directive take a look at our: 
Cookies: Best Practice Guide. 

What are Cookies? 

Cookies are small text files (that contain a site name and unique user ID).  When you visit a site that uses cookies for the first time, a cookie is downloaded onto your computer or device. The next time you visit that site, your computer or device checks to see if it has a cookie that is relevant (that is, one containing the site name) and sends the information contained in that cookie back to the site.

The site then ’knows’ that you have been there before, and in some cases, tailors what pops up on screen to take account of that fact. For instance, it can be helpful to vary content according to whether this is your first ever visit to a site – or your 100th. 

What’s the Directive and Legalisation all about? 

On 26th May 2011, new laws came into force in the UK that affects most web sites. If cookies are used in a site, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (UK Regulations) provide that certain information must be given to that site's visitors and the user must give his or her consent to the placing of the cookies. The Directive required that the new laws be implemented into the laws of all EU Member States by 25th May 2011. The UK is one of only three member states to meet this deadline.

From 26th May 2012 the ICO will follow the approach to enforcement set out in the Commissioner's Data Protection Regulatory Action Policy. In deciding whether enforcement action is appropriate the ICO will be concerned with the impact of the breach of the new cookie law on the privacy and other rights of website users, not just with if there has been a technical breach of the UK Regulations. The UK Regulations carry a maximum fine of £500,000 for serious breaches. It is anticipated that this power will only be used in limited circumstances. 

How do I know what cookies are on my site? 

Focus will able to assist you with a cookie audit. For more information please contact your Account Manager or email It is more than likely that you will have some sort of cookie on your site as they are used by Google for analytics tracking. 

Who is responsible? 

If your based in the UK, your organisation is responsible for ensuring that your web site complies with the legalisation. 

Focus will provide you advice, information and the possible ways of ensuring that your site is compliant. Focus cannot be held accountable for your organisation not complying with this legalisation. 

Once we have completed an audit we will be able to advise on the options available to ensure that your web site is compliant with the legalisation. 

What do I need to do in order to comply? 

The following is based on our understanding of the legalisation. 

Your web sites must provide users with the following information: 

  • clear information about any cookies you are using.
  • explain what the cookies are doing.
  • obtain consent to store a cookie on a users device.

There is an exception to the requirements about cookies and obtaining consent where: 

  • the cookies use is for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication; or
  • where such storage is necessary for the provision of information requested by the user. 

In addition to this, Focus would also recommend the following: 

  • Ensure that your web site has a privacy policy that is accessible via a link on every page.
  • Create a specific cookie policy that is accessible via a link on every page.
  • Review and if required, amend your web site terms and conditions.

What options do I have? 

The options available to you in order to gain the consent of your website users will depend on your site. Please speak with your Account Manager or contact Focus on for further information. 

When does the legalisation and compliance come into force? 

The new legalisation came into force in May 2011; compliance however was deferred for a year until 26th May 2012. 

What are the next steps? 

The following is a guide to the next steps which you can follow in order to become compliant with the legalisation. 

  1. Run a cookie audit (or speak to Focus about running one). 
  2. Assess the intrusiveness of your cookies and if any fall under the exemption rule.
  3. Update your Privacy Policy and possibly create a Cookie Policy.
  4. Discuss the best options available to gain users consent.
  5. Review your findings with Focus and discuss plans, timescales and costs.
  6. Create a cookie compliance project plan. 



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