News story

Implementation of revised EU regulations announced

The Government has today published its final plans for implementing changes to EU regulations on electronic communications.

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

Ministers have confirmed that the UK will adopt the amended Framework exactly as set out by the EU to ensure British firms can compete equally with the rest of Europe.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Our use of digital technologies, mobile and fixed line phone services, email and the internet continues unabated. The changes to the EU Electronic Communications Framework bring our regulatory framework up to date. They will help ensure there is a level playing field across Europe.”

One of the most significant changes will be to the use of cookies - the text files websites put on a user’s computer to store information such as user preferences. Organisations running websites will now need the user’s permission before a cookie can be used.

Today’s announcement follows a consultation where concerns were raised about the impact of changes to the use of cookies. To address these concerns, the Government has said it will work with browser manufacturers to see if browser setting can be enhanced to meet the requirements of the revised directive.

The updated directives must be implemented by 25 May and the Information Commissioner’s Office will publish further guidance on the use of cookies.

Mr Vaizey added: “We recognise that work on the technical solutions for cookie use will not be complete by the implementation deadline. It will take time for meaningful solutions to be developed, evaluated and rolled out. Therefore we do not expect the ICO to take enforcement action in the short term against businesses and organisations as they work out how to address their use of cookies.”

Further information

Published 15 April 2011