As most companies involved in online marketing are now aware, the European Union adopted new changes to the EU Directive at the end of December 2009 to make consent required for placing a tracking device or technology onto someone’s computer such as a cookie. Member States must enact this change by May 25 2011, and it is still unknown how most of the 28 Member States will choose to enact their own laws. Some may allow browser settings to suffice as affirmative consent while others may choose to enact the strictest version of the regulation requiring affirmative consent for each site visited, regardless of browser settings.

What does this mean for you?

Depending on if / where you do business in Europe, and what those countries decide to enact on or after May 25th you could be required to advise your web visitors that you perform web tracking via cookies, and seek their opt-in consent such as clicking a checkbox or link to consent to tracking BEFORE a cookie is dropped. At Eloqua, we have developed technology that is already available which will allow our users to accomplish this easily.

At a minimum, even for those Member States who take a more lenient approach (such as allowing browser settings as consent), you should review your current disclosures including Privacy Policy and ensure that you are clearly explaining that tracking is taking place, how it is taking place, and what options exist to opt out of such tracking. Even if you are already disclosing the use of cookies in your current policy, it may be prudent to review and update the language so that it is easy to understand. As more information emerges, Eloqua will provide updates.

 

Eloqua's own Chief Security and Privacy Officer, Dennis Dayman explains in more detail and provides insight via this article.

 

The UK Information Commissioner's Office has released their *updated* guidance on the subject here.

 

A listing of the EU countries that have implemented laws can be found here. This list will be updated as countries add their laws.

 

The full text of the amended EU Directive can be found on page 34, Recital 66 here.