The Government has confirmed it will go ahead with a previously-announced plan to simply copy the wording of the EU law without change into UK law. It will lay its proposed law before Parliament by the end of April, it said.
The European Commission created a package of telecoms law reforms in 2009 that included changes to the way the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive treated cookies. Cookies are small text files placed by sites in users' browsers to track their activity.
The Government has now said in its response to a consultation on the issue that publishers will need to gain consent more explicitly than is provided for in current browser settings.
"Many respondents were clear that browser settings (though not in their current form) might be the most cost effective and efficient means of harvesting the consent of the user," said the Government's response to the consultation (88-page / 388KB PDF). "However, it is the opinion of the Government that given the substantive changes to the wording of the Directive, the current use of browser setting as a form of consent is not consistent with the revised wording."
As previously revealed by OUT-LAW.COM, the Government is working with browser manufacturers on enhanced settings which might be considered able to represent a user's consent in line with the EU law.
The Government has conceded, though, that this will not provide a technical solution before the new law has come into force.
The online advertising industry has been working on self-regulatory measures aimed at complying with the new EU law. The Government has said that in its view companies that adopt these measures will be complying with the new law.
"[The Government] is satisfied that this meets the requirements of [the new law]," it said in its consultation response. "The European commission has also endorsed this work. The Government believes that this work fully addresses one of the uses of cookies of most concern to users and is, therefore, a major component in the Government’s plans for meeting the requirement of the revised provisions."
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