ICC UK Response to the New EU E-Privacy Directive

The EU E-privacy directive enters into force today the 26th May 2011 and will mean sweeping changes to the obligations faced by website operators.

Unless this is handled properly it risks damaging the role of the internet in marketing and trade.

Many businesses will be unaware of their new obligations under the law. But, there is a chance for the UK to be world leader in sensible online regulation.
In a statement Stephen Pattison, UK Director of ICC said:

“The vagueness of the EU directive and the difficulty of designing practical solutions in this area, creates real ambiguity.  But the message to business is don’t panic, there are already ways that websites can start to comply with the new law”

Conducting an audit of the cookies you use and providing clear information about them in your privacy statement will show the regulator that your business is attempting to comply.

The law will require companies to seek positive consent from visitors to websites before allowing cookies to tag a visitor. Cookies help track a consumer’s online shopping habits and preferences.  They are key tools in online marketing, enabling the consumer to receive tailored offers, and creating an efficient marketing experience on line. 

The process of gaining meaningful consent to use cookies is a serious concern. An opt-in requirement makes the directive tough to implement. ICC UK is working towards a best practice tool kit for businesses to use but any and all potential solutions must be forthcoming.

The tendency that some businesses might have, to wait and see, will not constitute a defence.

It is evident that compliance issues will not be solved overnight, however, ICC UK calls for the ICO and Government to continue to work diligently with industry to ensure businesses have the means to comply.

Mr Pattison said:

 “If Government works with business to get this right, we have the chance to set the standard for implementation of the Directive throughout Europe, and for similar legislation in the US and elsewhere.” 

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Notes to the editor:

1.  The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest, most representative business organisation in the world. As a global organisation, we work to further international trade by promoting open markets, sensible regulation and the rule of law. In the UK, ICC’s London office provides business views to UK policy-makers and regulators on a range of issues ranging from corporate responsibility to taxation. Members in the UK include 17 of the top 20 FTSE companies, many smaller firms, law firms and business associations.

2. ICC UK is working closely with the ICO and major businesses to develop practical ways of complying with the new regulations.

3. For media enquiries, please contact Andrew Wilson on: +44 (0)20 7838 7458 or +44 (0)7860 560 330.