These cookies are not the delicious kind. They are tiny text files that are stored on your device so that a website can recognise them. Cookies range from strictly necessary cookies for the functioning of a website, through to more complex cookies for the purposes of advertising and analytics. These cookies are used to "follow" you around the web. As such, a company using cookies must legally disclose this to the user and receive user consent before setting the cookies free to follow you around the web.
Cookies are not new, but the law regarding them is (under the Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011). The application of complex cookies on a website has grown quickly, thanks to a marketing concept called re-targeting. I like to call it the de-ja-cookie effect... It’s the weird web feeling you get, like you are being watched. Say you visit a website to look for a blazer, and, not finding what you are looking for, head off to another website to dream about your next holiday. Strangely, as you are looking for a flight, an advert for blazers 'just happens' to come up.
Legally, websites using cookies must tell you that cookies are there, explain what the cookies are doing, and obtain your consent before storing cookies on your device. In practice, websites have adopted a "take it or leave it" offer. You may have seen those annoying pop-ups on websites that tell you that they use them and if you don’t like it, then leave. Sorry, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles (I couldn’t resist). In my opinion, this is where the law is falling behind technology. You should have the option to disallow cookies being stored on your device and continue browsing.
Next week I will share insights around the law on "Privacy Policies." In the meantime, contact me here and I will confidentiality (and ever so quietly) take a look at your website to see if there are any glaring legal issues.