How BBC Online will meet changes to UK cookie laws
Today European privacy laws come into force in the UK, with the intention of giving internet users more control over the data websites gather about them. New rules require websites to obtain consent when placing 'cookies' on your computer, mobile or other device. Cookies are used all over the web for a variety of reasons - from enabling basic functionality to help the web remember your preferences, to creating detailed profiles of your browsing activity. I want to update you on how the BBC will be approaching this change.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) published guidance on changes to the cookies rules earlier this month to clarify how websites should obtain user consent for cookies. A further ICO news release yesterday confirmed that the ICO would give website owners up to 12 months to comply with the new cookies law before enforcement begins. This is because currently there is no easy technical way to enable individual cookie consent.
While some might welcome a pop up which asked for consent every time a cookie was used on a website, others might find it significantly spoiled their experience. The Government recognises that the technical solutions are not yet there, and is working with industry to agree the easiest (and least intrusive) way to enable websites to obtain users' consent to individual cookies. There is a debate about what consent means, but the crucial point is that users should be able to give informed consent, in other words, websites need to be very clear about what cookies they are using and why, and ensure that users have a choice.
How will the BBC comply with the law change?
Today we're publishing an updated list of the main cookies in use across BBC Online and what each is used for. It also tells you how you can control cookies by setting your computer, mobile or other device to notify you when a cookie is issued, or to opt out of cookies altogether.
We're also reviewing the ICO Guidance and starting to develop a plan to achieve compliance for BBC Online. This is going to involve reviewing the different types of cookies in use and deciding on the best method of obtaining consent from users in each case, and making technical changes where appropriate.
We'll continue to provide you with clear signposting to the cookies we use on BBC Online, so that you can make informed decisions about them, whilst being able to enjoy the best possible user experience across our web offering.
Certain areas of BBC Online also use a specific type of cookie, called Flash cookies, for particular functions - for example, to help an online game work effectively on your device. More information about Flash cookies can be found here.
Other useful links: http://www/allaboutcookies.org
Kate Leece is Head of Legal & Business Affairs, BBC Future Media & Technology