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‘Well intentioned’ but set to be ignored: Michael Ross on the new ‘cookie law’

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In just over two weeks, the new ‘cookie law’ will come into force – with important implications for the way UK retailers do business. From May 26, the EU ePrivacy Directive comes into effect in the UK. Failure to comply with the new rules, which demand that companies tell visitors to their website how their cookies will be deployed and get upfront consent, could mean a fine of up to £50,000.

We asked ecommerce veteran Michael Ross how he sees the introduction of the new law. Ross was the co-founder of and has since gone on to launch eCommera, a provider of intelligent trading solutions.

Internet Retailing: What do you think the effect of the upcoming so-called ‘cookie law’ will be on retailers? How critical an issue do you think this will be?

Michael Ross, director, eCommera: The EU Cookie law is simply a bad law and a restraint to trade online at a time when business needs all the help it can get. Trading online without using cookies for analytics or various types of marketing tracking is analogous to asking a retailer to trade blindfolded. It’s simply not possible.

IR: In your experience is this an issue most retailers have dealt with?

MR: According to a recent KPMG study, 95% of companies have yet to comply with the legislation and any business implementing the law in its entirety risks going bust. Most will ‘soft’ comply, based on advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

IR: How would you advise retailers to approach the task of getting visitors’ consent for cookies, especially those that haven’t dealt with it yet?

MR: The law is well intentioned – protecting consumers and consumer data is important but one needs to police the abuse, not the benign actions of honest online merchants. Thankfully, most businesses are simply ignoring the new law. Let’s hope the ICO does the same.


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