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    ZDNet: UK ‘cookie law’ takes effect: What you need to know

    ZDNet takes a look at the confusion surrounding the UK law concerning Web sites and Internet “cookies,” which collect data about and can track users’ Internet searches and sites visited, and other forms of tracking users’ online activities. ZDNet notes, “It is thought the majority of U.K. websites are breaking the law that dictates how users’ are tracked and logged, despite having more than a year to prepare for the changes.”

    The E.U.’s “e-Privacy” Directive, which first came into force in 2002, was amended in 2009. Each of the E.U.’s 27 member states were told to bring the Directive into their own member state’s law by this time last year, including the United Kingdom.

    The U.K.’s amended Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) Act 2011 was brought into force on May 26, 2011. The law stated, amongst other things, that companies operating in the E.U. and the U.K. must obtain the consent from its website users.

    Cookies allow websites to offer a more personalised experience, such as remembering a user’s preferences. Cookies can also be used for tracking user behaviour, and also by website owners to track how often their pages are being visited and other interesting non-personal user information.

    Some major websites, such as the BBC, have implemented new systems to inform users and allow them to opt-out. However, most U.K. government websites aren’t ready and already fall foul of the law. [...]

    The E.U. Directive contains only a portion relating to cookies, but also targets “non-essential tracking”, regardless of whether a cookie is involved or not.

    Arguably it has distracted many from the wider implications of the Directive. Website and Web application operators need to determine whether third-party trackers — such as advertisers and analytics — are used on their sites.

    As much as 40 percent of tracking activity is often not related to cookies, so a “cookie audit” should look outside other tracking technologies.

    Read the full story for more details and information.

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