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Thursday, June 7, 2012

British Government Will Fail to Meet Cookie Deadline

There is a deadline for cookie legislation set to take effect in a week, but majority of the government sites will fail to comply, says the Cabinet Office. According to a 2011 European directive, the Information Commissioner’s Office gave all British websites until the 26th of May 2012 to meet guidelines for cookies which involve website visitors opting in to having their details recorded.

Nevertheless, the government had to admit that in reality, it is a very long way off meeting the guidelines. It is currently working to complete compliance as soon as possible. Like many from the private sector who have been slow to comply, the government departments are not in a hurry either. As such, most of departments failed to meet this deadline.

Of course, the ICO wasn’t happy about even the government ignoring its requirements, and it turned out that there should be some leniency for the departments showing a “strong commitment” to change things – eventually, at the very least. Back in 2011, communications minister Ed Vaizey gave his backing to the directive, announcing that they would allow a year for a gradual rollout of the guidelines.

After the guidelines were released in 2011, the ICO claimed that it wouldn’t fine outfits who hadn’t complied by the deadline, saying that the government expected a phased approach to its implementation.

Nevertheless, as the ICO deadline is due next week, and there is too little action from both the public and private sector, the Information Commissioner’s Office might have to change its tune. Open Rights Group says that the recent embarrassing development in the cookie area is due to a continued lack of clarity from the authorities. The outfit points out that this situation shows a remarkable reluctance to grapple with the fact that Internet users should be asked before their details are collected and shared in ways they might not even expect. In fact, they should be showing the lead, and they become a problem if they aren’t.

Open Rights Group thinks that one of the largest problems of the government is its inability to clarify how it may implement the cookie legislation. It should come clean and explain clearly what information is given to whom and how. Of course, that would go a long way to exposing exactly what the authorities need to do. In the meantime, many questions around cookie compliance are mostly overblown – in reality there’s a very small number of cases around analytics that could be solved without an effort, especially if they worked with Google to make sure that information isn’t shared across Google’s service that can be done.

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