News story

Cookie rules to be phased in

Government confirms there will be no immediate changes to how UK websites operate.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has written a letter to the online industry to confirm that there will be no overnight changes to website operation as a result of new EU rules on cookies.

The EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive comes into force at 00:01 on 26 May requiring the user’s consent before putting cookies on their hard drive.

But the government, working with the Information Commissioner’s Office, has said that organisations and businesses should be given time to come up with workable technical solutions before enforcement of the law begins in the UK.

“We recognise that some website users have real concerns around online privacy, but also recognise that cookies play a key role in the smooth running of the internet,” Mr Vaizey said. “This Europe-wide legislation will ultimately help improve the control that individuals have over their personal data and help ensure they can use the internet with confidence.

“But it will take time for workable technical solutions to be developed, evaluated and rolled out, so we have decided that a ‘phased in’ approach is right.”

The government believes that default browser settings do not meet the requirements of the Directive as they stand and has formed a working group with browser manufacturers to examine the issue.

The Information Commissioner has said that it will not take enforcement action against businesses and organisations while they are working actively to address the issues raised by the Directive.

The government published its final plans for implementing the revised EU regulations last month.

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Published 13 June 2011