Data Protection: Cookie alternatives

Businesses developing tracking technologies to replace web cookies will still be subject to UK privacy laws.

Cookies – simple text files that get downloaded onto your computer when you visit a website – are often used to monitor your activity on a website but since May 2012 any company seeking to collect information about a website visitor via cookies must first seek consent, requiring the user to opt in to all “non-essential” cookies.

Cookies are increasingly being shunned by browsers and, with the increasing use of apps (which don’t support cookie technology), companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple have been developing alternative tracking solutions

The Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) has confirmed, however, that any technology used to track individuals online would be required to comply with all relevant aspects of the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Companies must be open and upfront with their consumers by explaining how their information is being used, as well as giving users a clear choice as to the options available to them. Failure to do so  leaves a company open to potential enforcement action by the ICO as well as damage to its reputation.

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