Cookies in a Nutshell…

Posted by Uncategorised • February 20th, 2014

The new EU Privacy Directive concerning the use of ‘cookies’ on websites has now been in force for over a month and potentially impacts many customers. Our clients rely on us for specialist advice on all issues that affect their ecommerce business, so after assessing the detail of the legislation and researching industry opinion, we’ve developed an implementation for our Shopfront solution.

The EU Directive requires that the user’s informed consent is given before a cookie is placed on their machine, although cookies that are essential to site function are exempt. We consider the cookie we use to maintain the shopping basket in Shopfront to be an essential – but what about Google Analytics? Analytics are certainly essential to the business but are they essential to the functioning of the site?

All our customers use Analytics to monitor their site performance and if you’re tracking visitor location, it needs to work immediately without waiting for consent. Popups requesting consent can provide a basic compliance option but they’re clumsy and not particularly user-friendly. The question is, do you really need consent at all?

Unsurprisingly, Google has remained completely silent on the issue and there’s still no definitive advice on what is acceptable. The general consensus is that it will probably take a legal case against a well-known site before the legislators set out clear guidance. However, as a safeguard, we’ve now developed an addition to Shopfront that turns off Analytics until the browser gives consent. Interestingly, only five of our 100 customers have asked for it, the rest seem content to wait and see what happens!