ICO takes a strong stance on cookie compliance

Following the ICO’s action to prompt the UK’s top 100 websites to check their cookie compliance, 53 were found to potentially have non-compliant cookie banners. Information Commissioner, John Edwards, says that these companies were given 30 days to ensure that they make the required changes.

Speaking at the IAPP conference in London today, Edwards said: “Of those 53, 38 have changed their cookie banners in a way that they are now compliant. Four have committed to reach compliance within the next month. That’s almost 80% success rate.”

When asked whether the ICO would take enforcement action against those that have not wanted to change their cookie banners, Edwards stated that this would be the case.

He said that this year the ICO is prioritising the fair use of cookies. Cookie banners are a manifestation of data protection law for many, but the ICO found that some websites did not give individuals fair choice.

“Our message is clear – it must be just as easy to reject all non-essential cookies, as it is to accept them. This will reset the balance of power between online advertisers and aggregators, and users.”

Edwards mentioned that the ICO will now automate this process declaring “Our bots are coming for your bots”.

A Hackathon is in operation today with external technical experts to identify how the ICO can monitor cookie compliance. The aim is to produce a prototype of an automated tool which would assess cookie banners on websites.

The March 2024 issue of PL&B UK Report, to be published next week, includes an analysis by law firm TLT on cookie compliance.