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EC cookie privacy laws threaten UK's digital economy

Kathleen Hall

EC e-privacy laws could damage the UK's digital economy, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has warned.

Businesses will be required to obtain explicit consent from web users being tracked using cookie text files. The directive will come into force on 25 May 2011, comprising an amendment to the EC's Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.

Nick Stringer, director at trade body the IAB, says the law will raise significant implementation challenges across Europe. "This new law is potentially detrimental to consumers, business and the UK digital economy," he said.

"The IAB is working with the UK government, the Information Commissioner's Office and other parties on potential solutions to help meet the informed consent provisions of the law but we urge them to work closely and flexibly with industry."

Communications minister Ed Vaizey says that, while the e-Privacy Directive will provide consumers with more choice and control over their internet experience, flexibility will be needed.

"We recognise this could cause uncertainty for businesses and consumers. Therefore we do not expect the Information Commissioner's Office [ICO] to take enforcement action in the short term against businesses and organisations as they work out how to address their use of cookies," he said.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is brokering the new measures in the UK, while the ICO will be responsible for regulation.


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