What does it mean for businesses?
With talk of monetary penalties for those companies that fail to meet the regulations naturally there is worry across the industry. These fears have been made worse by relatively muddled advice from the ICO and a lack of concrete actions that websites can take to comply with the regulations. This has left many to their own devices and a modicum of ‘interpretation’ when it comes to achieving compliance.
What can businesses do to comply?
Many companies are choosing a ‘sit it out’ approach, waiting for definitive clarification of the actions which will be needed in order to comply. This approach however is problematic and could even result in a chicken and egg situation for the ICO and UK brands. Nor does this approach mean that companies should do nothing, as it stands there are 3 actions that if taken, should help in achieving compliance.
Step 1: Completing a Cookie Audit
The first is concerned with housekeeping and requires a complete audit of the cookies used on a company’s website. This audit should look at the types of cookies being used, how intrusive they are to the visitor’s privacy and how critical they are to business functions.
Step 3: Think About Ways to Implement an Opt In System
Without strict guidance on how to implement an ‘opt in to cookies’ option there are very few successful examples out there. The ICO and Swedish Government websites have both opted for a text box atop the page describing why cookies are required and giving the option to accept cookies. Whether this will be suitable for many businesses however, remains unknown.
My Two Cents
As a digital marketer my preference would be the creation of a standardised solution whatever that may be. By providing solid guidance on what actions businesses can take a level playing field should be achieved for all companies. More importantly, this would create a single, simple and consistent approach for users who are likely to be confounded and frustrated by hundreds of different approaches to obtaining consent.
The next 5 months are going to be crucial for the digital industry. In this time auditing cookies and planning for the deadline is certainly a wise course of action, demonstrating that without a universal solution to obtaining consent you are making an effort to comply with the regulations.