Legal Updates

Internet Law – E-Commerce – Cookies – Directive 2009/136/EC


As we have consistently been telling our clients since last April, the law on cookies and e-commerce is changing. These new laws will come into effect on 26 May 2012.



The key piece of legislation is the E-Privacy Directive (2009/136/EC), which is implemented in the UK through the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011.


Background – Grace Period

Due to some ambiguity in the legislation, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) allowed for a one year’s grace period, during which time it would not enforce the new law. The grace period is due to come to an end this month.


Key Aspects – Sufficient information & Consent

The crux of the legislation is that sufficient information is provided to website users and the users have consented to the use of cookies, before cookies are used on websites. In particular, website users should be provided with clear and comprehensive information about what the cookies are doing and what is being stored.


Although the law does not outline exactly what should be provided to website users, the ICO has stated that information should be  "sufficiently full and intelligible to allow individuals to clearly understand the potential consequences of allowing storage and access to the information collected by the device should they wish to do so."


As to the question of consent, the ICO has stated that "Consent must involve some form of communication where the individual knowingly indicates their acceptance. This may involve clicking an icon, sending an email or subscribing to a service. The crucial consideration is that the individual must fully understand that by the action in question they will giving consent."


How can we help?

RT Coopers are specialists in internet law. The firm regularly advises businesses on issues such as cookies and e-commerce. We also draft website terms and conditions and privacy policies.


We can be contacted on 020 7488 9947 or by e-mail


© RT COOPERS, 2012. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances. 


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