Unboxing: Cookie Control

With the ICO's 'Cookie law' about to come into force, Gavin Davies looks at a software that claims to help businesses comply with the new guidelines.
Gavin Davies

About Unboxing

Unboxing is our regular feature where someone at Box UK spends a few hours playing with a new framework, library, tool or technique and blogs about his or her experience.

Cookie Control

“The Cookie Law is a new piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to obtain consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer or any other web connected device, like a smartphone or tablet.” Source

Hands up everyone who understands the EU cookie law. Hands down me. I’ll be honest, I still don’t fully understand it, and at the time of publishing this blog post (24th May 2012) we have just one day left to comply. Yikes!

I don’t have a “legal mind” at all, so when I heard of Cookie Control, I thought I’d take a look!

What is it?

Cookie Control from Civic UK is software that purports to give you compliance “with UK and EU law on cookies, in a couple of quick and easy steps”. In practise, it essentially provides users of your website with notification of what cookies are, and that the site is using them, to meet compliance guidelines which they explain here. Here it is on Cookie Control’s own website:

Cookie Control Website

It’s aiming to be a simple, easy to implement tool that you can just drop on your website to achieve immediate compliance. Could it be that simple? Or is this just a clever piece of marketing to get the Civic UK link on tons of websites? I investigated!

Getting to grips

There is a WordPress plugin for Cookie Control so that seemed like the quickest way to have a play. I installed the plugin through the admin panel and clicked through to its settings:

Cookie Control WordPress plugin

There are a lot of options for how this page can look. It can generate your Google Analytics code to make sure that is reported as well.

Cookie Control offers some callbacks so I set up alerts to easily view them:

Cookie Control callbacks

All these callbacks seemed to work OK.

Going deeper

I read a few resources on the cookie law, including offerings from silktide and boagworld.com and feel like I have a reasonable layman’s grip on what the law is (for more information on the implications of the directive my colleague has written a post explaining the various cookie options available to websites). Cookie Control does work and easily slots into sites, but it doesn’t seem to show what cookies are being used. You would still have that onus on you, as site owner, to make sure you’re clear about what cookies are being used.

Personally speaking, I think that if you’re really concerned about a simple solution, this will probably do the job for you. However, it’s also a big advert for Civic UK. I think it’s unlikely that any big business would want to do that and I don’t think that the Cookie Control icon will be as widely adopted as they hope.

Want to know more?

Head to Civic UK’s site to have a look at what they offer.

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