Company secretarial services provider and corporate support firm London Registrars (http://www.london-registrars.co.uk/) reports on recent updates to legislation regarding the use of cookies, pieces of digital data regarding internet browsing data, and what companies need to know.

The latest related legislation sets out that organisations which use cookies on their websites must by law have taken adequate steps to gain the consent from website users for the use of those cookies. The fact that cookies can record the activities of website browsers means that this information can be used to track their on-site behaviour, what they click on, where they navigate to, etc. Ever since the 26th May, 2012, the data protection regulator the Information Commissioner’s Officer can enforce against any organisations found not to be obtaining consent for the use of their website’s cookies.

The ICO has issued guidance which explains that implied consent through non-explicit means can in fact be seen as valid consent. This legislative update seems to be somewhat of a turnaround on the part of the ICO. Originally it made clear that, “At present evidence demonstrates that general awareness of the functions and uses of cookies is simply not high enough for websites to look to rely entirely in the first instance on implied consent.” However, now the ICO states, “While explicit consent might allow for regulatory certainty this does not mean that implied consent cannot be compliant”, although it does make the concession that in cases where sensitive information is recorded (health details, for instance), explicit content may be more appropriate. The ICO defines implied consent as: “some action taken by the consenting individual from which their consent can be inferred [e.g.] visiting a website, moving from one page to another or clicking on a particular button.”

The ICO has made it clear that it will be taking compliance with the cookie law seriously, for instance it has created a reporting tool on its website which encourages members of the public to report any concerns they have over the use of cookies on companies websites, thereby being able to track organisations’ compliance with the laws.

To keep up to date with other company secretary related news, visit the London Registrars website at http://www.london-registrars.co.uk/.