Confusion over EU cookie legislation

Written by Harry Butler

May 25, 2011 // 12:53 p.m.

Tags: #cookie #cookies #ed-vaizey #eu #government

The UK's implementation of new EU e-privacy regulations has been thrown into confusion, after Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey signed an open letter saying that websites may not, after all, need to gain user consent to deploy cookies.

New laws stipulate that unless a cookie is required for a service, such as online checkouts, websites must gain consent from users before dropping them onto systems.

However, Vaizey's letter says the new rules do not necessarily require 'prior consent,' and that there is 'no indication in the definition as to when that consent may be given, and so it is possible that consent may be given after or during processing.'

This could effectively mean that websites can be let off the hook from deploying cookies, with the emphasis instead placed on browser settings offering the option to approve or decline consent.

Regardless, fines for breaching the new regulations will not come into effect until next year.

What's your take on the EU's e-privacy legislation? Is it really possible to police the Internet effectively, or will most sites simply ignore the rules? Let us know in the forums.

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