Scots firms could face fines of up to £500,000 if they fail to meet new online priacy laws
Thousands of Scottish businesses could face fines of up to £500,000 if they fail to meet tough new online privacy laws which come into force later this week.
Edinburgh-based digital agency, Crush, warns every business with a website may be at risk following implementation of the so-called “Cookie Law” and there are no exceptions to the law for smaller firms.
Cookies are temporary computer files which gather information about the browsing habits of visitors to websites.
Activated by a user when they access particular pages on a site, the cookie is sent from the website to the user’s computer and remains once they leave the site.
When the user returns to the site the cookie allows the website to remember their preferences and settings.
Until now many internet users have been unaware that their browsing habits have been monitored by cookies.
From May 25, new EU regulations, enforced by the Scottish Information Commissioner, will require website owners to seek and be granted permission by website visitors before they can gather such information.
The directive is designed to protect privacy and allow people to avoid being targeted by adverts informed by their online behaviour.
This information is of benefit to businesses as it allows them to tailor communications to those most likely to respond.
Crush, which designs bespoke websites for businesses and organisations of all sizes, says the rules will have far reaching effects on Scottish business.
A study by KPMG revealed that 95 per cent of UK businesses were unprepared for their introduction.
Some 75 per cent of 2,000 consumers surveyed by eDigitalResearch and IMRG in April said they had not heard of the new EU cookie directive.
Of those that had, only 16 per cent were aware of what changes would come into effect on May 26.
“A great many of those will have had their websites designed and built by agencies and they may be unaware that they are using cookies, or even what a cookie is.
“Unfortunately for them, the new law places responsibility for adherence on the website owner rather than the agency that created it.”
Crush is advising businesses to review what cookies are used by their website before May 25.