Cookie law on websites comes into force today

A new law regulating web cookies means plenty of websites could be in breach.

A new European law governing what websites can and can't know about you comes into force today. And a lot of sites could find themselves in breach of it, the BBC reports.

The law regulates cookies -- text files that track your web browsing, so advertisers and the people running the website can see how often you come back and tweak the site accordingly.

The new law says websites need "informed consent" from us before they record any info in cookies they store on our computers. This "informed consent" often consists of a simple pop-up window explaining the changes, with a box to tick saying you agree -- sort of like the terms and conditions no one reads.

Companies have had 12 months to comply. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said it will try to help sites not complying, rather than take legal action. Though it has updated its policy to allow "implied consent" to count as complying. Basically, if you continue using a site, they take it to mean you're happy for it to gather info on you, rather than having to tick a box. Which does seem to render the legislation a bit pointless.

The law was watered down to include "implied consent" just hours before it was due to come into force, according to the Guardian. It puts the onus on the website user rather than the person running it, which is quite a big shift.

Dave Evans, group manager at the ICO, said it wasn't easy for all sites to comply because of how much work is involved. Sites that are yet to take the proper steps will be expected to demonstrate exactly what they've been doing in the last year to get ready.

What do you think of the new law? Should passive "implied consent" count as adequate permission from a site user? Let me know in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page.

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