EU Cookies Law

Posted on in Business

Cookies are something nice to eat? Yes, but this blog is about the EU Cookies Law and the web users experience.

A lot has been discussed in the technical press and media on the merits or otherwise of this law. These discussions have mainly focused on web design, implementation and web marketing but there has been little written to educate web users.

First contact

Website cookiesIn reality most web users will first encounter the manifestation of this law when asked to accept cookies on visiting a website. Without guidance the web user will almost certainly say no! This decision could affect their browsing experience and will certainly impact the website owner if their website is running any form of analytics, marketing or functionality requiring cookies to be accepted.

As a web user how does this affect me?

If you are asked to accept cookies what should you be aware of?

    • What are cookies? Cookies are used by website owners to store various types of information on the machine you are using to browse their site. The UK Information Commissioners Office (ICO) identifies 4 categories of cookies; 'strictly necessary', 'performance', 'functionality' and 'targeting'.
    • What information are cookies storing? This depends on the websites design and use. Generally cookies are used to store website parameters specific to your browsing session. For example, in an ecommerce website cookies store the products in your shopping basket. The most common cookies used are web analytics that anonymously track your navigation through the website.
    • What are ‘strictly necessary’ cookies? These cookies are critical to the correct operation of the website. For example, an ecommerce website has ‘strictly necessary’ cookies to ensure your selected goods get put in, and stay in your shopping basket. Without these cookies the site just wouldn’t work. There is no opt-out for these cookies other than not using the website.
    • What about 'performance', 'functionality' and 'targeting' cookies? These cookies typically enable additional functionality for the user, manage web analytics or various types of marketing. Declining these may reduce your web browsing experience; however, because they are not 'strictly necessary' the basic website will work.
    • How do I know what cookies are being used? Website owners are encouraged to disclose what cookies they use to allow you to make an informed decision. Some web browsers have an option to display cookies. Our cookie use can be found by following this link to our Cookie Policy page.
    • What about my web browser, can I use that to control cookies? Functionality is included in a number of web browsers to decline cookies. This can be an all or nothing situation which, if you are on an ecommerce site may require you to adjust your browser settings to purchase goods. Additionally, web browsers can also be set to delete cookies on closing; this is how I have my browser set.