A number of people have been asking recently how the EU Cookie Law effects their users and the use of their online booking system. So let me explain.

What is the EU Cookie Law?

A year ago on 26 May 2011, the Information Commissioner from ICO announced they would allow organisations 12 months to work towards compliance with new changes. The changes included an amended privacy legislation that requires websites to obtain consent from visitors before storing information about them.

The ICO is responsible for enforcing these new rules and to be clear, we’re talking specifically about compliance with the amended e-Privacy Directive. The portion of the Directive that applies to cookies is in fact written much more broadly and requires consent for non-essential tracking, regardless of whether or not a cookie is involved.

What is a Cookie?

A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is downloaded on to your computer when you visit a website. Cookies are used by most websites and are used in specific cases such as remembering your login details, user settings, shopping basket content and tracking your movements on the website or booking system.

'First party cookies' are set by the website you are visiting however there are also 'third party cookies' set by other websites who run content on the page you are viewing, the most common being Google Analytics.

Does this effect my booking system?

Yes but don't panic.

The rules require in most cases that websites wanting to use cookies get users' consent. ICO have adopted a fairly soft approach to enforcement so be assured that strict changes such as website banners are not requirement as the user preferences set within BookingLive fall under the area of "implied consent".

In most cases, BookingLive clients will already be compliant. However in some circumstances, for example where you are collecting sensitive personal data such as health information, you might feel that explicit consent is more appropriate and you should bring this to your user's attention.

BookingLive does have a cookie consent module in mind for future development similar to http://silktide.com/cookieconsent. However this involves core changes to the Silverstripe CMS platform. We will be working with Silverstripe to develop a new module however there is no expected release date.

A guide to compliance.

In most cases, there is no reason to implement extreme change. Simply inform users about tracking via your privacy policy and you will comply with the law.

Review your website and make a list of all cookies (we have provided a full list in our privacy policy below) and then revise your privacy policy online to include specific information as provided.

These simple actions will be sufficient until the ICO finally decides what compliance companies should adhere to. Even large brands are not taking this new law to the extreme, as seen on the telegraph's website below.

Download our free privacy policy, which contains a list of all cookies used in the BookingLive online booking system.

For more information please visit Comparitech blog or contact us.