Privacy Advisor

UK—ICO to focus cookie enforcement on popular, noncompliant sites

December 1, 2012

By Lilly Taranto

On 14 November, the ICO published a report on cookie enforcement further to the letters it sent to 68 popular websites in May 2012 to check what steps they were taking to comply with the UK’s new cookie consent requirement. Eighty eight percent of the websites contacted responded indicating that they were fully compliant or working towards compliance. All of the sites which responded appeared to have taken at least some steps towards compliance. The ICO also invited individuals to report concerns about cookies. Between 25 May and 6 September, the ICO received 388 complaints about 207 websites. To put this in context, the ICO received 3,646 complaints about unwanted marketing communications in September alone. This indicates that consumer concerns about the use of cookies appear relatively low at present. On this basis, the ICO said that it will use its enforcement powers in a manner proportionate to the risk to consumers and focus its attention on those sites that take no significant steps towards compliance, prioritizing those with the highest visitor numbers. Another update on cookie concerns and the ICO's enforcement activity should be published by the end of November.

Lilly Taranto joined Field Fisher Waterhouse in 2010 and specialises in data protection and information law. She also has experience advising multinational clients on cross-border and UK data protection issues in technology and communications, retail and financial institutions. She can be reached at