In 2012, the deadline of May 26 was the last date when UK-based websites had to update their Privacy Policies and include a "Cookies Notice" to get informed consent from their users before using any cookie files to store information on their users' computers.
BBC reported this on May 26, stating that thousands of websites were in breach of the new cookie law, but others reported that very few people noticed and, in one survey by PwC (link to PDF), only 13% of respondents knew how cookies work.
A cookie (sometimes called web cookie or browser cookie) is a file stored in a user's web browser with small pieces of data that stores information like user settings and preferences, and things like the frequency someone visits a specific website and other analytics specs.
The Cookie Law was introduced via amendments to a 2003 EU e-Privacy Directive that requires websites to get user consent for the use of tracking technologies, the most common being cookies.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) wrote a full guide for webmasters to learn how to become compliant with this law. The British Information Commissioner's Office states that UK-based websites that to do not comply with this law are to be fined of up to £500,000 for non-compliance.
Let's take a look at 4 cookie law-compliant ways you can notify your users that you use and store cookies.
Adding your cookie notice to your website footer is a universally smart move. Since most websites include important legal links in the footer, people know to look here for important things. When a notice is placed in the footer region, your users will be very likely to notice it and take it seriously.
There's a "More about GDPR" link that takes users to a page that discusses more about how the company strives for GDPR compliance. Because the GDPR focuses on transparency and user rights, a cookie notice like this that gets consent from users before placing cookies is a requirement of the GDPR when most cookies are used.
A top header notification will be displayed front and center at the top of your website. This means it'll be nearly impossible for a site visitor to miss. Websites notoriously put important messages at the very top including sale notifications and other things users know to watch for, so this is a smart area to place your cookie notice.
The Thomas Cook website displays a notice at the very top of its site, above the main navigation menu:
While Thomas Cook used an above-everything notification that positioned the message above everything on the website, like the logo, menu and so on, the Gov.UK website is using a more inline notification: below the logo, but above the website content.
This works really well with the design of Gov.UK that's very minimalistic. The notice uses a slightly lighter color blue from the site background that fits well with the logo section line and the "Welcome to GOV.UK" section.
Another example of a more inline notification can be seen here from Barclay's. This notification bar is located between the top section of the website and the start of their website content, which makes it pretty much impossible to miss:
Note that this notice is for an update to a Cookies Policy. If you update your Policy after getting your users to accept/agree to it, you'll need to take this approach and re-display your notice and re-obtain consent/agreement.
The UK newspaper Mirror complies with the Cookie Law differently in terms of design by positioning a small box in the bottom right of the website that is in a fixed position, regardless of how you scroll:
This method works well on mobile devices since the box can display largely on the screen:
You can comply with the cookies law by implementing any kind of design functionality you'd like that matches your website as long as users can give their informed consent for the usage of cookies on your website. Just make sure to design your notification to be easy to notice.
The notification needs to be displayed to new visitors of your website across all pages. If a new user lands on a specific land page and not your homepage, such as via Google search results, you still need to have the notification message displayed.
This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.
28 August 2019