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EU cookie consent law largely ignored

Simon Cox

28 May 2012


EU cookie consent law largely ignored

The EU has give the UK until May 28th 2012 to comply with the cookie consent law - how many of the organisations pinpointed by the ICO have met the deadline?

Most UK organisations have ignored the EU directive on cookies

The EU Cookie Consent law has been making a lot of waves in the web industry since it was first announced. The UK was given an extended period to implement the law and this has been overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office - "the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals" - know as the ICO. 

The ICO published a list of organisations that it has written to, spread across a wide spectrum of operations, and in many cases has been working with to get feedback on the approach to the cookie law issue. This resulted in an 11th hour change to the law on the 24th May 2012 much to the outrage of those companies that have spent a lot of time and effort getting compliant in time.

I reviewed that list of organisations expecting to see the majority of sites in compliance with the new law - especially since the ICO had highlighted these and had been in contact. These were my findings: 

Organisation URL reviewed Opt in/out? Cookies
Acumen Professional Intelligence Limited No 4 Limited No 4
AOL (UK) Limited No 11
Apple (UK) Limited No 1
Argos Limited No 2
Associated Newspapers Limited No 1
Automobile Association Developments Limited No 2
Barclays Bank PLC Yes 2
BBC News Yes 5
BBC Radio 1 Yes 6
BBC Sports Yes 6
Belfast City Council Yes 2
Betfair Limited No 11
Boots UK Limited No 11
British Airways PLC No 18
British Broadcasting Corporation Yes 7
British Sky Broadcasting Limited No 8
Channel Four Television Corporation Yes 5
Department For Transport No 2
Deputy Company Secretary ? ? ?
Derry City Council No 1
Direct Line Insurance Plc No 3
Domino's Pizza Group Limited No 1
Dumfries and Galloway Council No 1
easyJet Airline Company Limited No 21
Ebay (UK) Limited No 4
Everything Everywhere Limited No 1
Facebook UK Ltd No 5 Limited No 5
Google UK Limited No 6
Group Regulatory Relations ? ? ?
Hallmark Cards PLC No 6
Haymarket Media Group Ltd No 2
HSBC Bank PLC Yes 3
IPC Media Ltd (NME) No 2
Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited No 6 Limited No 14
John Lewis PC No 3
Lloyds TSB Bank PLC No 2
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Yes 1
Met Office No 1
Microcourt Limited No 10
Microsoft Limited No 1
Mind Candy Limited No 4 Yes 4
MyMaths Limited No 1
National Assembly for Wales No 1
National Lottery No 9
National Westminster Bank PLC Yes 6
Network Rail Limited Yes 1
Next Group PLC No 2
NHS No 3
NHS Choices No 3
Northern Ireland Assembly No 4
Public Service Ombudsman Wales No 2
Qype Limited No 19
Rightmove Group Limited No 2
Royal Society For The Protection of Birds No 14
Sainsburys Supermarket Limited No 10
Scottish Government Yes 2
Scottish Parliament No 1
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman No 1
Tesco Stores Limited No 6 No 3
The Cabinet Office No 1
The National Trust No 10
The Office Of The Ombudsman For NI No 4
Trader Publishing Ltd No 25
TSL Education Limited No 2
Turner Broadcasting System Europe Ltd No 1
Virgin Media Limited No 18
Weightwatchers No 8
Welsh Government No 1
William Hill (Bookmakers) Ltd No 2
Yahoo UK Limited No  5


Of the 75 organisations listed by the ICO 13 had implemented a cookie consent function, 60 had done nothing (and may not need to) and 2 I could not fathom who the ICO had written to so could not find a website to test. 

This is despite good advice and tips on Cookie Consent law implementation being readily available around the web. One UK agency, Silktide, have even created a Cookie Consent kit that takes 5 minutes to update a site to make it compliant. For the bigger companies though this kind of change is a challenge and the court costs and fines may well be less than the cost of implementation.

If you want to read more about the Cookie Consent law I suggest you start your journey at the ICO and then move onto the No Cookie Law website.


*To do this test I used the Ghostery Chrome plug-in to show the cookies but in some cases it did not detect any so on further investigation with the Web Developer plug in I was able to see the cookies set by the website. It's not perfect but its a good indication of the state of compliance with this law.

*Note that is not on the ICO list and therefore I have not been directly consulted by the ICO and since none of the EU websites have bothered to comply (seriously!) I will wait to see what the best practice is - or for a change in the law.

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