Businesses warned not to be ‘half-baked’ when it comes to using cookies

25th May 2011


- as European e-Privacy directive comes into force -

London, UK (25 May): Specialist business insurer Hiscox is warning UK businesses that the uncertainty around the enforcement of the European e-Privacy directive, which is due to become law on 25 May, should not stop businesses developing a clear policy on cookie use.

The new legislation means that businesses with websites could be required to gain explicit consent from visitors to their sites in order to use cookies to track online activity. In turn, online users have more control over the data businesses are able to gather about their activity. If businesses fail to ask for informed consent from users, penalties can be enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Alan Thomas, head of technology & media at Hiscox, commented: “There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the enforcement of the new European e-Privacy directive but the message to companies using cookies is clear: don’t allow a half-baked approach to cookie consent expose your company to prosecution.

“This is an emerging risk for businesses, particularly in the media and technology sectors, and it is important that they develop a clear policy when it comes to cookie use. Although this industry is already tech savvy and are advanced in their understanding and use of cookies, they shouldn’t be complacent.”

The ICO (www.ico.gov.uk (external link)) has issued guidelines on its website to help support businesses including:

  • Audit your website to establish the type of cookie and technology it uses
  • Understand how the website’s cookies work and how intrusive they are for users
  • Decide how visitors will be asked for consent on the site.

Hiscox’s Alan Thomas continued: “In time it may be that browser based consent, where users simply permit their browser at the outset to download cookies for whatever site they are on, might remove the need for individual sites to seek user consent. However, the situation is unclear and we are working to understand what the new rules will mean in practice for businesses from a risk and insurance perspective.”

ENDS

For further information:

Hiscox Ltd
Johanna Boland T: 020 74486494
M: 07824 453786
[email protected]


About Hiscox

Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). There are three main underwriting parts of the Group - Hiscox London Market, Hiscox UK and Europe and Hiscox International. Hiscox London Market underwrites internationally traded business in the London Market - generally large or complex business which needs to be shared with other insurers or needs the international licences of Lloyd's. Hiscox UK and Hiscox Europe offer a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers, as well as high net worth individuals. Hiscox International includes operations in Bermuda, Guernsey and USA. Hiscox Insurance Company Limited, Hiscox Underwriting Limited, Hiscox Europe Underwriting Limited and Hiscox Syndicates Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For further information, visit www.hiscox.com.


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