EU Cookie Directive - Directive 2009/136/EC (6 April 2010)

This amendment directive requires consent for the placement of cookies on the Internet by tightening existing legislation in this regard, namely the, e-Privacy Directive, 2002/58/EC.  Implemetation of the directive into national law is required by Spring 2011. 

This directive requires end user consent to the storing of cookies on their computer.  Indeed the directive states that a cookie can only be stored on the computer or accessed from the computer if 'the user has given his or her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information.'  There is an exception if the cookie is absolutely necessary for the provision of a service that has been requested by the user or information storage is for the sole purpose of carrying out an online communication.  Thus, websites that carry advertising require users' consent to the provision of cookies and the same rule applies to  websites that count the number of visitors such as Google Analyitics or WebTrends. 

Cookies are central to many websites and  are used to track users online activity across numerous websites. 

Article 5(3) of the current e-Privacy Directive requires that users' have been informed about the use of cookies, the purpose that the cookie will be used for and the right to opt-out of the use of cookies. 

Article 2(5) of the new Cookie Directive requires that the storing or accessing of information on the computer is only permitted if the user has given his or her explicit consent, thus establishing an opt-in requirement for the use of cookies. 

Organisations offering applications which attempt to access personal data will require user consent via the opt-in principle.  Proposals suggest that this includes publicly accessible private networks including universities or social networks. 

The Directive can be accessed from the EU website at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:337:0011:0036:En:PDF.

Posted on 06/04/2010