Concerns over EU internet cookie law set to cost companies thousands in compliance fees

IT consultant Mark Chapman raising concerns about cookies- internet rather than real ones...
IT consultant Mark Chapman raising concerns about cookies- internet rather than real ones...

Serious concerns have been voiced over new EU legislation on internet data tracking “cookies” which could cost firms thousands of pounds to tackle.

Digital consultant Mark Chapman said the move represented a “barrier of bureaucracy” at a time when companies could least afford it.

He believed many firms appeared uncertain about the latest laws, which come into force in just a few weeks’ time, being reportedly devised to protect consumers from abuses of personal information theft.

But according to the experienced internet expert, small and medium enterprises are set to be especially hit by the move, facing significant cost and time resources in revising auditing provisions.

Mr Chapman argued that cookies served a valuable purpose and represented a legitimate means of establishing how many visitors to a website had been registered.

Under the new Euro directives, firms face tough financial penalties if they fail to comply with cookie laws by May 26.

He said: “I think what is happening is like using a sledgehammer to crack a small nut.

“It is effectively forcing every website to make sure that every user has given consent for them to register they have visited a site.

“The web community is pretty good at self-regulating, so bringing this legislation in is almost assuming that website owners are acting almost like criminals.

“People will have to spend a lot of money making their websites compliant to this, but the case hasn’t been proved that they are actually doing anything wrong as it is.”

He added that while consumer protection was an important issue, he did not believe that imposing such legislation was necessary at this time in relation to cookies.

He feared it would damage the smooth running of the internet in terms of a raft of additional pop-up consent material clogging up systems.

Adam Stafford, managing director of Fresh Egg, also believed many website owners were still unaware of the impacts of the changes.

He said: “It’s true to say there is a cost implication associated to this analysis and any additional cost considerations in this economic climate are far from welcoming.

“However, the impact will vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the site’s size, the marketing campaigns utilised to promote the site, and the functionality of that site.

“While this directive is important for protecting a user’s online privacy, there will be implications for website owners who rely on cookie-based tracking to better inform business decisions based on user behaviour online.

“Our advice to website owners is to familiarise themselves with the guidance issued by the ICO and audit their website to identify cookies used for any purpose. This information then needs to be added to the site’s privacy policy. It would also be prudent for website owners to seek independent legal advice regarding this issue as failure to comply can carry a fine.

“Should anyone have any questions about this they can contact Fresh Egg via email or via Twitter @FreshEgg.”