Changes to the Privacy Law

RECENT EU LAW CHANGES AND PRIVACY UPDATES, WILL THIS AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS OPERATIONS?

The simply answer is yes, the EU Law and use of cookies that can affect privacy legislation in that it now requires websites to obtain consent from their website users to store or retrieve any personal information on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

The legislation was created to protect online privacy, by making consumers aware of how information about them is collected and used online, and give them a choice to allow it or not.

WHY ARE COOKIES AN ISSUE?

Almost all websites use cookies – little data files – to store information in peoples’ web browsers. Some websites contain hundreds of them.

There are other technologies, like Flash and HTML5 Local Storage that do similar things, and these are also covered by the legislation, but as cookies are the most common technology in use, it has become known as the Cookie Law.

All websites owned in the EU or targeted towards EU customers (which includes countries such as Australia and New Zealand), are now expected to comply with the law

WHAT ARE COOKIES ANYWAY?

Cookies are a kind of short term memory for the web.  They are stored in your browser and enable a site to ‘remember’ little bits of information between pages or visits.

They are widely used to make the web experience more personal, which is generally seen as a positive thing. However some cookies collect data across many websites, creating ‘behavioural profiles’ of people. These profiles can then be used to decide what content or adverts to show you. This use of cookies for targeting in particular is what the law was created to highlight. By requiring websites to inform and obtain consent from users it aims to give web users more control over their online privacy.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR BUSINESS?

If you own a website, you will need to make sure it complies with the law, and this usually means making some changes.

If you don’t comply you risk enforcement action from regulators, which in the UK means The Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO). In exceptional cases this may mean a fine.

However, non-compliance could also have other, perhaps more serious consequences than enforcement.  There is plenty of evidence that consumers avoid engaging with websites where they believe their privacy is at risk, and there is a general low level of trust about web tracking by the use of cookies.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?

Compliance with the EU Law and Privacy comes down to four basic steps:

  • Work out what cookies your website sets, and what they are used for.
  • Tell your users how you use cookies.
  • Obtain their consent, such as by stating a disclaimer regarding cookies with a tick option for acceptance, thus giving the end user some control.
  • Ensure you have an up to date Privacy Policy uploaded on your website to detail how personal information is handled, processed, stored and shared.More changes are currently going through parliament and once passed, we will provide any updates if they affect your business. These will cover – Mandatory reporting of privacy breaches – Strengthening cross border data flow protections – Penalties – Strengthening the Privacy Commissioners information gathering power etc.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NEXT?

Speak to your local Area Manager, we specialise in credit management and we can assist you with your review of your business operations to ensure your meet the guidelines of the EU Laws and Privacy Legislation.

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