Firms making use of the company compliance services of London Registrars (http://www.london-registrars.co.uk) may be surprised to learn that despite new regulations relating to website cookies having come into force more than a year ago, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has yet to investigate any websites over them.

The new rules demand that websites let users know in advance of any intention to place cookies on their computers. However, even though the legislation came into force via an EU directive as long ago as May 2011, a Freedom of Information request from PC Pro found that the ICO’s investigative team was still not yet ready to start work.

Website owners were given a year’s grace period to update their sites to comply with the new rules, but this came to an end on 26 May. In the period since then, the ICO’s online submission tool has recorded the reporting of some 320 sites, without a single one coming under investigation.

Admitting in its response that the information had yet to be analysed as “the team which will have responsibility for this is not in place yet”, the ICO nonetheless stated that “once the data has been analysed any organisations not in compliance will be identified, then further action will be considered as appropriate.”

An ICO spokesperson said that it had now hired employees for the investigative team, which would begin work by the end of August 2012. It is expected to deal with not only cookie consent, but also spam texts, electronic marketing and other aspects of the new Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations.

With the ICO having previously suggested that it was unlikely to fine sites that failed to comply, instead simply forcing them to follow the new rules, it added that it would not necessarily investigate sites reported via the online tool. The watchdog said that the reports “are not being taking forward as individual complaints”, with “the purpose of this feedback form” being “to help us to monitor organisations’ adherence to the rule relating to cookies, and identify sectors where further advice or enforcement activity may be required”.

Although the ICO initially stated that “explicit consent” would be required before websites could use cookies, a day before the rules were set to be enforced for the first time, it said that “implicit consent” – or in other words, simply informing users of the use of cookies – would be sufficient.

London Registrars can act in a number of capacities for its business clients, including as a PLC company secretary. Visit the company website at http://www.london-registrars.co.uk to find out more about its full range of company secretarial services.