A new law which is designed to protect the privacy of internet users has had little effect on websites, according to a survey by accountancy firm KPMG.
The European Union directive on online privacy came into force here in the UK on 26 May and requires websites to notify their users of their intention to use 'cookies' when they browse their site.
Cookies are small software files installed by a website onto a user's computer to monitor the use of the site and to feedback other information. Some cookie data is then sold by websites to allow others to target advertising according to your browsing habits.
KPMG looked at 55 websites after the UK legal deadline at the end of May, noting whether the sites were compliant with the new law or not. Their survey revealed that only ten of the 55 (less than 20%) had implemented the necessary changes.
The new law will be enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) who has the power to levy substantial fines for non-compliance.
The ICO has stated, however, that it will initially adopt a hands-off approach, notifying websites of non-compliance and requesting that the matter is addressed, rather than imposing fines from the outset.
Stephen Bonner is a partner in Information Protection and Business Resilience at KPMG.
""There is clearly some progress in that the Cookie Law has had an effect on a number of website providers. However, what we have also seen is a great deal of confusion around what is actually required to comply with the law," he said in a statement.
"While there is still much confusion, there is also a call for organisations to adopt a more basic approach towards these requirements; informing customers upfront when you are collecting and analysing information about them builds trust and confidence in your organisation as a whole," he added.
The KMPG survey revealed that the businesses with the fastest rate of compliance were those in the banking and retail sectors.
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