CRAZY New UK Cookie Law – Now in Effect

New UK Cookie Consent Law in Effect Today

Watchout!! They're coming...

(UPDATED: See end of post)

If you happen to have websites in the UK, be prepared to make some serious changes with the new UK Cookie Law that requires you receive a visitor’s explicit consent before you can place a tracking cookie.

How serious is it? Well, if £500,000 ($782,350 USD) doesn’t sound like much, you don’t have anything to worry about. The rest better pay attention.

A recent article from the BBC on the United Kingdom Cookie Law, states that “From Sunday (May 27, 2012), sites must obtain ‘informed consent’ from visitors before saving cookies on a machine.”

Here’s the real rub, the article also states that:

“The guidelines, set by the EU, mean visitors must be told what cookies are being placed on their machine. Typically, this will mean a pop-up window seeking consent.”

Are they really intending to force EVERY visitor to consent to cookies every time they come to a site? That’s crazy. (Maybe our popup optin best practices will come in handy for you Brits. 😉

So What Should You Do?

You can imagine, that some savvy website owners are going to wait for 80% of the other UK website owners to implement the changes. They know the minute they do put a popup that says “Please consent to having us place a technological method for tracking your actions on our site, and related sites” their conversions are probably going to drop, and they are not going to be able to properly track conversions and traffic sources (many affiliates are going to have some serious troubles), which will mean drops in traffic.

If you’re an affiliate, which site would you send your traffic to? The one that can pay you, or the one that says “We did see any conversions from you.” Yikes!

Well, the good news is, we here in the US will be able to watch what happens in the UK. I’m sure we’re not going to be too far behind the curve in getting a similar law in the US.

BTW, I wonder if an device identification system like Blue Cava is considered tracking… (Blue Cava can track users as each computer has a unique “fingerprint”. Very cool technology.) These may be the next steps in tracking when cookies are no longer allowed.

Currently, our clients in the UK are taking a “wait and see” attitude, as there is no clear compliance guidance on implementation of the law.

UPDATED 5/29/2012: We’ve gotten a few emails regarding a post by the Guardian UK, the UK Info Commissioner’s Office has had a last minute change of heart: websites can assume cookie consent for now. However, the EU requires explicit consent. Looks like there is still a lot that needs to be settled with UK and EU websites. (Thanks to Hugh at for the link!)

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5 thoughts on “CRAZY New UK Cookie Law – Now in Effect

  1. another sad example that proofs that politicans still don’t understand how the internet works. it’s a law that only works in theory.

    1. I’ve gotten several emails in regards to this. However, for UK companies doing business in the EU, there may still be legal force to comply. It’s going to be a messy situation. Thanks for the link Hugh!

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