Socitm updates cookie law service for councils

Public sector IT managers' association Socitm has launched an updated version of its Cookie Management Service for local authorities and other public service websites.

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Public sector IT managers' association Socitm has launched an updated version of its Cookie Management Service for local authorities and other public service websites.

The online Cookie Management Service enables public sector websites to meet the requirements of the so-called "cookie law", that was introduced in 2011 and which is now being enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Cookies are small text files which are used by websites to analyse their visitors’ internet behaviour. The files are stored on a user’s hard disk to enable targeted advertising and personalised web pages. Cookies are also used by e-commerce sites, like Amazon, to help manage users’ shopping carts.

The Socitm service has been updated to take account of new revised guidance from the ICO issued on 24 May 2012. This removed the need for the heavy-handed cookie consent arrangements, which had started to appear on websites in the run up to the enforcement deadline, including pop-up screens and other measures to get explicit consent from users before they enter a website.

These initial implementations had a marked effect on visitor numbers, said Socitm, and potentially impeded councils from fully taking advantage of providing services online.

The Cookie Management Service allows councils to address their other responsibilities under the directive, including being aware of all cookies on all sites owned, and publishing detailed information about these cookies for visitors, including ways to delete them. Information displayed is updated automatically with new information about cookies on the website based on a quarterly audit.

The EU cookie law deadline in May was largely ignored by UK companies and other organisations, despite the risk of being fined, according to research from business consultancy KPMG last month.

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