ICO’s Winter 2015 and 2014 aggregate #cookielaw update

Pic by Michael McGarrity (of course)
Pic by Michael McGarrity, as if anyone else would make his tree look like this

The Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK government agency which polices the EU Cookie Law in the UK, has released the statistics on cookie law reports they received in the 4th quarter of 2014. These Q4 statistics allow us to create the aggregate tally for 2014.

Stat party: this follows on from their Autumn 2014, Summer 2014, Spring 2014, Winter 2014, Autumn 2013, Summer 2013, Spring 2013, and 2012 aggregate reports.

During the fourth quarter ICO received a total of 43 submitted complaints. This is a rise of 9 from the autumn quarter and a drop of 10 from 2013’s winter quarter (53.) It makes a total of 178 complaints received in 2014, a drop of over 100 from the 288 complaints filed in 2013. Added to the 550 largely backdated complaints filed in 2012, that makes the total number of cookie law complaints filed since implementation day in May 2012 just 1,016 complaints.

By now you’re familiar with ICO’s penchant for mentioning how many complaints they received about other issues to contrast with cookie law complaints. For this quarter they note they received “43,423 concerns about unwanted marketing communications” over the same period that those 43 spurious cookie law complaints were made.

Yes, spurious. For the fourth quarter in a row ICO have had to rant that “many of the concerns received about cookies did not relate to individual sites or provide specific information about non-compliance.” For the fourth quarter in a row none of the sites they reviewed raised any cause for concern.

As with 2013, ICO have not provided a list of the web sites those 178 complaints were made against. The only time they published a list was in 2012, and that process proved how many of the complaints were ad-hominem, vexatious, politically motivated, or attempts to get revenge for poor customer service. Cookies, and alleged privacy violations, were neither here nor there. We can presume that repeating the process for 2013 and 2014 was not worth the time.

And most importantly, as with every quarter since implementation, no UK sites have had any enforcement action taken against them.

There will be movement on the cookie law front in 2015 as the EU begins to review the law and look at ways of bringing non-cookie tracking mechanisms into the legal fold. I will report to you throughout the year on those deliberations as they come through.

About the author

Heather Burns is a digital law specialist in Glasgow, Scotland. She researches, writes, publishes, consults, and speaks extensively on internet laws and policies which affect the crafts of web design and development. She has been designing and developing web sites since 1997 and has been a professional web site designer since 2007. She holds a postgraduate certification in internet law and policy from the University of Strathclyde. Learn about hiring Heather to write, speak, or consult.