What are cookies
Cookie Law in the EU
Cookie Law in the UK
The UK introduced the amendments on 25 May 2011 through The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011.
The rules in this area are essentially designed to protect the privacy of internet users – even where the information being collected about them is not directly personally identifiable. The changes to the Directive in 2009 were prompted in part by concerns about online tracking of individuals and the use of spyware. These are not rules designed to restrict the use of particular technologies as such, they are intended to prevent information being stored on people's computers, and used to recognise them via the device they are using, without their knowledge and agreement.
Terminology and definitions
Session and persistent cookies
Cookies can expire at the end of a browser session (from when a user opens the browser window to when they exit the browser) or they can be stored for longer. The Regulations apply to both types of cookies:
Session cookies – allow websites to link the actions of a user during a browser session. They may be used for a variety of purposes such as remembering what a user has put in their shopping basket as they browse around a site. They could also be used for security when a user is accessing internet banking or to facilitate use of webmail. These session cookies expire after a browser session so would not be stored longer term. For this reason session cookies may sometimes be considered less privacy intrusive than persistent cookies.
Persistent cookies – are stored on a users' device in between browser sessions which allows the preferences or actions of the user across a site (or in some cases across different websites) to be remembered. Persistent cookies may be used for a variety of purposes including remembering users' preferences and choices when using a site or to target advertising.
First and third party cookies – Whether a cookie is 'first' or 'third' party refers to the website or domain placing the cookie. First party cookies in basic terms are cookies set by a website visited by the user - the website displayed in the URL window. Third party cookies are cookies that are set by a domain other than the one being visited by the user. If a user visits a website and a separate company sets a cookie through that website this would be a third party cookie.