The regulator refutes suggestions that it has performed a U-turn, however, claiming it originally opted for “explicit consent” – which requires users to tick a consent box before proceeding – to raise awareness of the issue. Implied consent just requires a simple statement on the site, with a link to advice on how to stop cookies.
The ICO said the change in policy would to enable it to “collect reliable information to make our website better”. A notice on its website states: “We first introduced a notice about cookies in May 2011, and at that time we chose to ask for explicit consent for cookies.
“We felt this was appropriate at the time, considering that many people didn’t know much about cookies and what they were used for. We also considered that asking for explicit consent would help raise awareness about cookies, both for users and website owners.”
“Since then, many more people are aware of cookies – both because of what we’ve been doing, and other websites taking their own steps to comply. We now consider it’s appropriate for us to rely on a responsible implementation of implied consent, as indeed have many other websites,” it said.
When the cookie law was first adopted last year – following a year’s grace – the ICO was adamant that explicit consent was the best practice.
However, last May the watchdog issued new guidance that stated that organisations can rely on individuals’ implied consent as long as website operators are “satisfied that [their] users understand their actions will result in cookies being set”. But it added that “without this understanding you do not have their informed consent”.
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