On April 15, 2011, the United Kingdom’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”) announced that the UK will adopt the new EU rules on cookies without “gold-plating” the regulations by imposing additional national requirements, to help ensure that British companies can compete with the rest of Europe. As we previously reported, the UK government had reassured businesses that it would carry out the implementation in a manner that would minimize the impact on businesses and consumers.

The Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, said “The Government recognises the internet would be severely restricted without cookies and concerns were raised during the consultation that changes to the use of cookies could have serious impacts on the web.” Under the revised ePrivacy Directive 2002/58/EC, websites that use cookies to track their users will be required to obtain explicit consent from users. The UK government “will work with browser manufacturers to see if browser settings can be enhanced to meet the requirements” related to cookie use, and will set up a working group to look at the issue in greater detail.

In addition, Mr. Vaizey said DCMS recognizes that the work on the implementation of the new rules regarding cookies will not be completed by the May 25, 2011 implementation deadline since “[i]t will take time for meaningful solutions to be developed, evaluated and rolled out.” He also confirmed the government does not expect the UK Information Commissioner’s Office “to take enforcement action in the short term against businesses and organisations as they work out how to address their use of cookies.”

For more information, please view the press release issued by DCMS.