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BizReport : Law & Regulation : July 03, 2011

Site visitor numbers plummet 90% after EU cookie law change

Following the introduction of a new European cookie law the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) reports worrying news for retailers across Europe - a 90% decrease in visitors to its website.

by Helen Leggatt

The ICO was one of the first web sites in the UK to introduce the policy after an EU directive required that websites obtain consent from visitors if cookies are to be stored on their computers.

Under the directive, introduced in May this year, website visitors have to agree upfront to the uploading of cookies to their device - rather than the consent being hidden in terms and conditions as it has previously.

However, this directive has played havoc with the ICO's website visitor numbers. Since implementing the required changes they have seen the number of visitors to their website drop a whopping 90%.

"The drop in traffic shows the lack of understanding on the part of the user about privacy issues and cookie usage and follows the Law of Unintended Consequences," says Paul Vlissidis, technical director of NGS Secure, an NCC Group company.

"It is likely that most users were unaware of downloading cookies or even what cookies do since many never read T&Cs. Now that it's being presented to them in a clear and present manner, they are being frightened away from using a site."

Malcolm Duckett, CEO of digital marketing agency Magiq, finds the statistics "staggering" and feels many businesses across European will be worried by the figures.

"The implications of not complying are huge, but it is worrying to see such a dramatic fall-off in visitors," he said.

"At a time when the high street is suffering, it has never been more important for e-commerce sites to be seen as trusted and reliable by customers, and this is a disquieting red flag to all web sites that will need to ensure compliance."

Tags: cookies, European directive, online tracking, privacy, regulation, UK

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