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Information Commissioner’s Office calls for views on “consent or pay” cookie usage model

When you browse to a website it is now commonplace to have to interact with a cookie notice where you give permission or not to the use of advertising cookies.

Website cookies are small text files that websites store on a user’s computer or device. These files contain information about the user’s interactions with the website, such as login credentials, preferences, browsing history, and shopping cart items. Cookies serve various purposes, some of which can be useful, but others that track website usage and enable targeted advertising can make many website users uncomfortable.

Data protection law therefore requires people to be given a fair choice about whether or not cookies are stored on their computer or device. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) enforces data protection law and are developing digital tools that will enable them to continue evaluating website cookie compliance.

If your business has a website, then it is important to check that you are complying with the law. The ICO has the ability to take enforcement action where an organisation is ignoring the law.

Of course, much in the same way as TV has been largely funded by advertising, much of the internet and its content relies on advertising income. Therefore, different ideas about how this can continue while respecting people’s privacy are being considered.

Once of the options being proposed is a “consent or pay” model. This would give people the choice to use a website for free, but only if they consent to their personal information being used for personalised advertising. Alternatively, they could pay a fee and not be tracked.

The ICO advises that, in principle, data protection law does not prohibit a “consent or pay” model. However, there are issues that an organisation would need to consider and businesses naturally want to have certainty when it comes to regulations.

In view of this, the ICO is consulting on what its regulatory approach to “consent or pay” models ought to be and it has opened a call for views on this business model.

To take part and find further information about this subject, please see:

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