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About Cookies

07th May 2015

Not, unfortunately, the ones you keep in a jar, but the ones that live on a website!

These sort of cookies are small files implanted on the hard disks of visitors to a website (often without them being aware), which collect information, for example by analysing browsing habits, or remembering payment details online.

While cookies may not be able to identify an individual, they may be able to, in combination with other information held. So, new laws require businesses to obtain consent to store or retrieve information from users’ computers or mobile devices.

There is only one exception. The business will not need to get consent if it is “strictly necessary” for a service requested by the user. For example, a business would not need consent for a cookie to ensure when a user of its website has chosen the goods they want to buy, and clicks the “add to basket”, the site “remembers” what they chose on a previous page.

Other than that, if your business has a website, you must provide information about cookies and obtain consent before a cookie is set for the first time.

Consent could be gained by using the terms of use or terms and conditions which the user agrees when they first register or sign up. However, simply changing the terms of use to include consent for cookies would not be good enough. To satisfy the new rules, businesses must make users aware of the changes and specifically that the changes refer to your use of cookies, and gain a positive indication that users understand and agree to the changes for example, by asking the user to tick a box.

Robert Enticott, partner and Head of business services and commercial property

George Ide
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