Ensure you get consent

A cookie in IT speak is a temporary computer file which gathers information about the user’s online activity. The cookie is sent from the website to the user’s computer and remains once they leave the site allowing the website to remember preferences and settings.

The new law marks a major shift in responsibility for the use of personal data: previously the user had to opt out, but now the user has to opt in.

Businesses must now take three practical steps:

      review what cookies are used by their   website;
      decide on the appropriate course of action to ensure that consent is obtained for the use of  cookies (i.e. using pop-ups or banners on the website to obtain consent);
      ensure that these measures are implemented in an effective way

In addition, businesses will want to make sure that their website remains user friendly as well as being legally compliant. That can be quite difficult when asking users for permission to use their personal data. So, collaboration between web designers and IT lawyers is essential.

Recent guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says that a user’s consent can be implied in certain circumstances.

This means that, by continuing to navigate through a website following a pop-up or notice, the user will be deemed to have consented to cookies being set. However, the emphasis is on the website owner to ensure that meaningful consent is obtained.

For more information or advice please contact Sebastian Calnan, Head of the Food Group at lawyers EMW in London and Milton Keynes, on 0845 074 2423 or at sebastian.calnan@emwllp.com

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