By Max Clarke

On May 26th, the rules on web browser cookies changed. While for most web users and online businesses the changes incurred will make little differences, there have been several notable alterations.

Following the announcement of new regulations for websites on cookies and data handling, the ICO has issued advice on how to ensure compliance. Many, however, have found a lack of guidance and clarity concerning the regulations frustrating.

Shedding some light on the changes and providing Fresh Business Thinking with guidance surrounding the regulations is the founder and CEO of website communication specialists, Magiq, Malcolm Duckett.

The online industry has been watching and waiting, as abuse of behavioural targeting and cookies is beginning to get out of control. The roll-out of this statutory regulation under existing treaty legislation is going to have a massive impact on the whole of the online industry. Unfortunately, it could also have a detrimental effect for the UK economy if governing bodies such as the ICO begin fining companies in breach of the rules.

The complex nature of the regulations means that it is not only cookies that are being monitored, but all forms of data collection. Most players in the industry were expecting a loophole, but the regulations set will be a lot stricter than ever imagined.

If every website followed the rules set out in this lengthy document, and had to gain informed consent from all users before setting up any cookies, users would be continually bombarded with pop-ups asking for permission. ‘The world’ is watching the major players such as Google and Amazon, looking to them to set an example of how to comply. However by taking this approach of waiting and following an implied lead from these companies in an attempt to side-step the issue, companies could be putting themselves in a fatal situation.

The liability to comply with the regulations lies with the website operator. The need to comply could have a dramatic impact on British businesses. They may be driven away from holding their websites in the UK due to these strict rules, to places in Europe and further afield where the laws are more relaxed.