Cookie law crumbles as UK warns it will miss deadline

Posted by Emma Woollacott

New EU regulations set to come into force in May could damage businesses' competitiveness, a UK trade body has warned. But never mind - it'll be months before anybody has to comply with the rules.

An amendment to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive  orders website owners to gain users' consent before tracking them using cookie text files. Consent will probably be asked for via browser settings.

But according to the Internet Advertising Bureau, the law will  be bad news for businesses.

"It raises significant implementation challenges right across Europe," says Nick Stringer, the IAB’s director of regulatory affairs. "This new law is potentially detrimental to consumers, business and the UK digital economy."

Unfortunately, while the directive comes into force at the end of May, it's looking highly unlikely that technical solutions will be completed by this time. Indeed, the Information Commissioner's Office says it's unlikely that any change in UK law will take place before fall.

"Revisions to the e-Privacy Directive will provide consumers with more choice and control over their internet experience. But at the same time we need to make sure these changes do not make using the internet more difficult," says Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and the creative industries.

"We recognise this could cause uncertainty for businesses and consumers. Therefore we do not expect the ICO to take enforcement action in the short term against businesses and organisations as they work out how to address their use of cookies."