Here comes the Cookie Monster (again)!

No, we’re not talking about Jim Henson’s little furry blue friend here. That would be too easy, and way too much fun! Instead, we are taking a look at the now (almost) legendary behemoth that is the ‘EU Cookie Compliance‘ monster.

What is this beast? Is he friendly? Does he really eat cookies?

Cookie MonsterThe answers to these questions, in reverse order, are:

  • No, he just tells website owners how they should make them and suggests that they let you decide if you want to eat them.
  • Most people would say he is. After all, he is just trying to look after the little people and make sure that websites are more open about their use of cookies.
  • That’s the big one, so we saved it until last. At his worst, he can be a very mean beast who has the power to munch his way through £500,000 worth of your cookie fund if you don’t do as he asks! At his best, he is an impartial friend who just wants everybody to play nicely together.

Ok. Enough of the analogies, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty…

Why are we writing about this legislation still? After all, it came into effect way back in May 2011. Well mainly because it was (almost) totally ignored at the time, and even when it became legally enforceable in May 2012, the majority of websites (small and large alike) sat on the fence in a ‘wait and see’ mode.

Over the past few months, the knee-jerk reaction has been fairly strong, especially amongst larger commercial websites. If you have travelled the internet recently you will have seen ‘solutions’ ranging from barely-noticeable text links squirreled away somewhere on a page, to annoying large pop-ups obscuring the content you actually wanted to read.

Many of these websites are still only paying lip-service to the legislation, and are not actually being fully compliant in the true spirit of the legislation. It is not our place to name and shame these websites – we’ll leave that to the ICO, but here are two very well-known commercial website examples:

  • A major UK telecoms provider decided to opt for a time-limited pop-up window which gives you the option to opt out of accepting cookies, provided you manage to read the notice (and respond) quickly enough! Otherwise they will set them anyway. This is referred to as ‘implied consent’.
  • Another household name in the consumer advice sector opted for the ‘in-your-face’ approach. At least they apologise for the interruption, but in the meantime, they have already set no less than 20 cookies by the time you read their notice, and don’t provide an option to decline those cookies!

There are many more similar examples, but we think you get the idea. So what is the answer?

Swedish ChefFinding the right recipe…

Although every website is different, achieving cookie compliance comes down to one ethos, and a few common technical denominators.

Vermilion UK has taken the time to research and understand exactly how the cookie crumbles and we are confident that we can apply our knowledge to improve many websites, regardless of size or sector. Take a look at our Cookie Compliance service for the full recipe as well as some top Chef’s tips…

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