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Cookies - a recipe for successful use

Cookies are useful for collecting information about visitors to your site but recent regulations make it clear that they can only be used if your site visitor is

1.    told of their purpose; and
2.    gives consent to their use.

If you do use cookies then you must comply with these basic principles but this can be easier said than done.

To produce a good cookies policy:-

1.    Carry out a cookie audit – find out what cookies you use, the purpose behind them, the type of cookie, what data it hoards and how long it lasts.

2.    Once you have this information you need a published cookies policy. The Information Commissioners Office published the following as an example of such a policy:-

'Our website uses four cookies. A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that we put on your computer if you agree. These cookies allow us to distinguish you from other users of our website, which helps us to provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allows us to improve our site. The cookies we use are "analytical" cookies. They allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors and to see how visitors move around the site when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works, for example by ensuring that users are finding what they are looking for easily. Read more about the individual analytical cookies we use and how to recognise them [link].'

3.    Set up a prominent warning or sign post to your cookie policy, perhaps an information banner on your home page or a pop-up window. The following is an example of the type of wording often used:-

'We use cookies (What’s this [link]) to make your experience of our website better. To comply with the new E-Privacy Regulations, we need to ask for your consent to set these cookies. [opt in link] I accept cookies from this site.'

You may be able to rely on ‘implied consent’ but, says the ICO, this is not an excuse to do nothing! You must still ensure that clear and relevant information is readily available to visitors to your site explaining what is likely to happen while they are on the site and what choices they have in terms of controlling what happens.

For more information or to arrange an appointment, please contact David Heys on 0116 212 1000.