Google Analytics users could be breaking the law

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Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that allows you to track user interaction with your website. You or your web designer can register your website and begin to receive statistics such as visitor numbers, pages visited and time spent on your website. What you may not realise is that using Google Analytics on your website means you could be breaking the law!

On 26th May 2011 a new UK law came into effect making it a legal requirement to ask a visitors permission before collecting their information within a cookie. If you have ever logged into a website and clicked a ‘remember me’ option or added a product to a shopping cart then your information has been recorded by a cookie.

These interactions with a website require your input, unfortunately, services such as Google’s Analytics collect user information in cookies without you selecting or asking for them to do so. This new law was created to help web users to be aware that sites are collecting data even if it is hidden in the sites HTML code.

If your own website does use Google’s Analytics service then you will need to have a ‘Cookie Control’ system in place to do the following:

  1. Make the user aware of the fact your site uses cookies.
  2. Give them the option to switch cookies on or off if they wish.
  3. Offer a clear link to your site terms and conditions and privacy policy.

As well as this ‘Cookie Control’ you will need to add a cookies policy statement to you sites terms and conditions/privacy policy. These must state what you use cookies for on your site and how disabling cookies may affect the visitors use of the site e.g. ‘Disabling cookies will affect the shopping cart feature on the website’.

The UK government gave a 12 month grace period for website owners to put this ‘Cookie Control’ in place and this grace period ended on 26th May 2012. There are many free services which will give you code to add to your website to control cookies if you want to add this feature yourself.

We would advise all website owners to implement these ‘Cookie Controls’ as soon as possible, UK law treats a breach of this new law as seriously as any other breach of a customers privacy and fines or prosecution may result.

You have been warned!

All new website developed by Two Plus Two have ‘Cookie Control’ installed as standard, we can also implement these systems on existing websites that use Google Analytics or similar tracking systems for a set fee. If you would like to discuss ‘Cookie Controls’ why not contact us today.

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