What is the Cookie Law and how does it apply to me?

This FAQ refers to the EU regulations concerning Cookies

As of 26th May 2012, the Government has updated the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations in accordance with the EU Privacy Directive.

Cookies are small files comprising of numbers and letters downloaded to your hard drive when you access certain websites. Cookies are returned to the website each time you visit, allowing the website to remember important information such as log in details. These are designed to help you quickly and easily navigate the internet.

Although cookies cannot carry viruses, and cannot install malware on the host computer, tracking cookies and especially third-party tracking cookies are commonly used as way to compile long-term records of individuals’ browsing histories — a major privacy concern that has prompted European and US law makers to take action.

As such, the law does require that users are given the chance to opt out of having their information recorded in this way.

Therefore, websites that use cookies must:

  • Tell users that the cookies are there
  • Explain what the cookies are doing
  • Obtain consent to store the cookies on the users’ device.

There is an exception to the requirement to provide information about cookies and obtain consent where the use of the cookie is:

  1. For the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network; or
  2. Where such storage or access is strictly necessary for the provision of an information society service requested by the subscriber or user.

To find out more about the Cookie Law, visit:

How does the Cookie Law apply to me?

The law applies to you and your business, not to your hosting provider. Therefore, it is your own responsibility to ensure that any cookies your website drops fall within these regulations.

Some cookies are excepted if they are necessary for your website to function correctly – for example, any cookies used to remember goods the user wishes to purchase from your website are admissible. Cookies that are not necessary are not excepted and will require the user’s acceptance (i.e. first and third-party advertising cookies).

If you are unsure what cookies your site drops, or how to check your own cookies, then there are some options available to you. For example, here are a few third-party cookie checkers:

There are also tools that allow you to add a consent panel to your website, giving users the option of allowing cookies.

Please note: 123 Reg packages such as Website Builder, InstantSite and eCommerce do not contain any cookies that outside of the boundaries specified. However, if you have added third-party content, such as Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, please check with the website in question. 123 Reg are not responsible for the choice and content of third-party sites.