Data protection considerations
The Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) is designed to regulate the use of personal data by businesses and other organisations. The DPA is the main legislation implementing the UK General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Anyone processing personal data must ensure that it is:
used fairly, lawfully and in a transparent manner
collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes
adequate, relevant and its collection is limited to what is necessary
accurate and kept up to date
kept in a form that enables identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary
handled according to the data protection rights of individuals, and
not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection. Data transfers to the EEA and certain other states are covered by adequacy decisions, meaning that additional paperwork is usually not required
Organisations that determine the purpose for which personal data is processed (ie data controllers) must pay the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) a data protection fee unless they are exempt.
For more information, read Data protection, Data protection principles and Data protection for businesses.
Privacy and cookies
Cookies are files stored on a computer’s browser by websites that can be used for various purposes, often related to marketing or advertising.
Such consent must be:
given through a clear affirmative action, such as clicking an opt-in box or choosing settings or preferences on a settings menu. Simply visiting a website doesn’t count as consent.
given freely and genuinely
It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it. This means that if you want to tell people to block cookies if they don’t give their consent, you must make them accept cookies first. You must also give people the option to change their minds (ie by providing an opt-out option).
Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations
Under the PECR, websites cannot use 'non-essential' cookies unless the consent of the user is expressly given - ie users must opt-in before such cookies can be used.
Non-essential cookies are those which are used for analytical purposes or to assist with advertising. Even cookies that customise a website (such as providing a greeting message) are deemed to be non-essential.
Essential cookies are generally those which enable an online checkout process to work properly, or which are required for technical or security purposes. Using essential cookies does not require a user’s consent, but it is good practice to ensure that information about these cookies is available.
Failure to comply with the Cookie Law can lead to fines of up to £500,000. There are also smaller penalties, such as being sent an information notice or an enforcement notice.