Most organisations continue to ignore cookie law

No sign of urgency

The EU cookie law deadline has largely been ignored by UK institutions despite the risk of being fined, according to research from business consultancy KPMG.

Cookies are small text files which are used by websites to analyse their visitors' internet behaviour. The files are stored on a user's hard disk to enable targeted advertising and personalised web pages. Cookies are also used by e-commerce sites to help manage users' shopping carts.

With the 26 May deadline for website providers to gain user consent before installing cookies having passed, an analysis from KPMG has found that 80 percent of major UK organisations across UK private and public sectors are still not compliant with the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications. This is despite the fact they risk heavy fines of up to £500,000 for non-compliance.

In the analysis of 55 UK websites, which was carried out after the deadline on 28 and 29 May, KPMG found that only 10 have now implemented measures regarded as compliant with the law by gaining users' consent and giving them the option to change cookie settings.

Compared to KPMG's first analysis of the same websites back in March, when just one company showed compliance, this is just a small increase despite the passing of the deadline and the risk of fines. The majority of these 10 websites also only follow the approach of "implied consent" which assumes that users accept the use of cookies unless they change their browsers' settings.

Stephen Bonner, a partner in the information protection and business resilience team at KPMG, said: "What we have seen is a great deal of confusion around what is actually required to comply with the law.

"Many organisations are taking a wait and see approach at this stage. Some also seem to assume that the measures they have taken so far are sufficient, but they are not."

KPMG said organisations providing additional detail on cookies, including links to relevant information, is not enough for full compliance. Organisations also had to make sure their mobile-specific sites were also fully compliant, it said.

KPMG added there had already been "many complaints to regulators from customers unhappy about their rights not being respected".

Last month the European Commission announced it had asked the European Court of Justice to impose fines on Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia for failing to implement the cookie law.

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