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    Financial Times: Privacy watchdog starts cookie crackdown

    The Financial Times reports that the UK Information Commissioner’s Office is ready to punish those Web sites and companies that are violating laws on tracking the online behavior of individuals:

    Companies that do not comply with new laws on collecting data from online customers will be contacted within weeks by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is beginning a crackdown on infringements.

    The move could affect about 65 per cent of UK companies which, according to estimates by KPMG, are still not notifying visitors to their websites before installing cookies to track online behaviour. This makes them potentially liable for fines of up to £500,000.

    Companies such as Tesco, Sainsburys, the Daily Mail and even government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions are among those who do not appear to have changed their websites since the new laws came into force four months ago, according to checks by the Financial Times. […]

    The ICO said it had received 486 complaints about non-compliance and had increased the size of its enforcement team by 60 per cent to 37, to investigate infringements.

    Since May companies have been required to get users’ permission before using cookies – small text files that record online activity. The ICO had delayed enforcement of the rules for a year from 2011, to allow companies time to adjust.

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