THE Darlington developers of one of the UK's leading online shopping websites has criticised the new European Union regulations on "cookies".
The amendments to the EU’s e-Privacy Directive came into force last week, requiring users of websites to consent to tracking via web cookies before they continue browsing on websites.
www.shopsafe.co.uk , which features more than 4,000 sites, promotes safer online shopping and campaigns for more simple surfing, to encourage more people to use online retail.
Cookies are web-based pieces of text stored on a web browser that allow it to remember visitors to the website. They help the browser to remember details, what is in an online shopping basket, or even whether the person is a return visitor to the site.
While speculation is that people will be required to tick an “opt-in” box when they arrive at any website, the practical reality of the directive amendments is unclear.
The online portal’s directors believe practical rules explaining to businesses and consumers how the system will be required to work.
Director Simon Crisp said: “This is going to add a regulatory and cost burden to the digital economy just at a time when we don’t need it.
“It is not at all clear what small businesses need to do to comply and even less clear to online shoppers what they should expect from a website.
“Shopsafe.co.uk is very concerned that not only will this make shopping online more confusing, which we are against, but it will impose a burden on smaller websites that they can neither afford nor understand.
“We are pleased that the Information Commissioner has taken a practical view in delaying enforcement for one year but first of all there must be commonly understood rules and best practice for the Information Commissioner’s Office to enforce.”