On March 8, 2011, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) issued a warning to UK businesses on the forthcoming amendments to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive (2002/58/EC as amended by 2009/136/EC) that will require businesses operating websites in the UK to obtain consent from website visitors to store information on their computers and retrieve that information in the form of cookies.
At this time, it is unclear how the law will be implemented and enforced in the UK and across the EU. As of March 10, 2011, the ICO indicated that it has not yet seen a draft of the implementing legislation, which raises concerns that the ICO will not have sufficient time to draft and publish guidance to businesses on how to achieve compliance before the legislation comes into effect. Even though the UK government has indicated that it does not expect the ICO to take enforcement action in the short term, the ICO’s “wake up” call suggests that it will not be sufficient for businesses to simply do nothing. Instead, industry needs to prepare to adapt to these impending changes.
For more information, view the ICO press release.