The cookie law is dead, you’re welcome

Last week we laid down a bitter ultimatum to the guardians of the cookie law: Go Ahead And Sue Us.

We stripped our sites bare of cookie warnings and begged them to do their worst. Little did we realise what would follow.

Within 24 hours our campaign was featured by the BBC, Hacker News, The RegisterPC Pro, Econsultancy, The Inquirer, Computer Business ReviewOut-LawTechWeekEurope and more, accumulating over 5,000 Tweets and Likes.

Finally – the government (specifically, the ICO) responded to the media firestorm, by – um – tweeting. Brace yourselves:

Yup. You read that right.

So what does this mean?

Clearly the average website has little to fear from the law right now.

We quite literally begged people to complain about us; drawing the direct attention of the ICO and national media. And we got a gentle “well done”.

Now to be fair, more is being said. “They’re the 1st steps on road to compliance” alludes to greater demands still to follow, or at least covers their ass. But they tacitly seem to accept that a privacy policy is enough to comply for now.

Responding to the media, the ICO commented further:

Individuals can raise their concerns about how organisations have implemented the cookies legislation through our website, and we’ll look at the content of every website reported to us. The nocookielaw website will feature in that review, and we’ll report on our findings in November.

So, looks like we have until November to flee the country.

What should you do?

Right now our advice is to take down your banners and stick with a simple privacy policy. Heck, even Amazon doesn’t go any further than that; and they know all about you and your addiction to 50 Shades of Porn.

In November we will hopefully learn more, but this soft enforcement approach is unlikely to suddenly turn into anything too scary overnight. If we’re found to be doing wrong, I expect we’ll be given notice on what to do about it.

Personally I can’t wait to see what other websites are being vetted if our tiny little company is one of them.

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  • oliveremberton

    By the way, clicking on the screenshot of the tweet above takes you to it. There’s been some interesting replies already…

  • Jonathan Paylor

    The cookie law was dead way back in May when the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that websites can assume that users have consented to their use of cookies (and don’t need to display those annoying consent links/widgets/etc.)… so, what has changed? Why is this news?

    • oliveremberton

      Well not everyone got the memo. Also did you not see ?

    • David

      It isn’t news. It is just a publicity stunt, and it worked. Clever marketing. Still, I’m glad someone stood up and took on the ICO directly in a public space. Their powerlessness needs to be proven to the rest of us.

  • anonymous

    just laid it down to rest here

  • Robbie Bow

    My view is the cookie law is less useful and will probably be less enforced than the The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, which requires, among other things, that commercial web sites publish a contact email address. Anyone aware of any cases of *that* being enforced?

    • Pat Kaleb

      I so wish that all websites would publish a contact email address. I have had some my content stolen before by illegitimate websites yet I cannot get a hold of some of them. Unfortunately, I then have to contact their host and shut them down from the inside.

      • silktide

        You can always do a WHOIS lookup to find the registrar of the domain, and their physical address.

  • Baxter Tocher

    I’m really confused about what you’re saying you’ve achieved here. The shift to “implied consent” hours before the law came into force meant that the ICO wouldn’t take any action. And… they’re not taking any action. Am I missing the point somehow?

  • oelmekki

    Too bad, I loved that cookie law : it was definitely pushing in LocalStorage.

  • Bart Kappenburg

    Amazon uses 10 cookies according to cookie-checker: I think that’s a lot…

  • Paul Barnacle

    I have added a “cookie” part to privacy policy’s on multiple websites for years as it is part of WOT’s recommendations, does that mean I was “legal” before the law was brought out?

  • Steve Masters

    When the UK govt’s websites actually comply with this law, and when the EU Commission website complies, I will start to consider taking it seriously. Until then, I think consumers are actually SAFER when they visit websites that don’t ask them to tick a blanket agreement.

  • Moo

    Sorry but where does the IPO say the cookie law is abandoned?

  • escobarysanchez

    Excellent tool

  • Luke

    I really don’t understand the problem with the cookie warnings which are usually displayed as a little accordion thing at the top of the page which to be honest, a lot of people haven’t even noticed. I don’t see how anyone could complain that they’re extremely annoying.

    • Blues Sister

      they become a bit annoying after you clear your history – which as a developer I have to do quite a lot – because you might accept cookies on a site that you visit regularly and then once you clear your history you find you have to accept them again & again & again & again etc

      • Someone Here

        then do the better thing and remove only cookies you want to have removed…it’s not hard

        • That Person

          You clearly aren’t a developer.

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  • tqwhite

    What do you think about the iFrame cookies that allow the big companies, Facebook with ‘Like’, Google with Adwords, etc, to track you across sites using cookies?

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