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For large organizations like the BBC, ignoring the recently-enacted EU cookie law probably isn't a viable option. Despite the headaches associated with implementing a solution, the threat of legal actions and fines probably outweighs the costs of compliance.

It's a different story for entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses, some of whom indicated a willingness to flout the law until given a reason to reconsider.

But businesses apparently aren't the only ones deciding that the cookie law isn't worth chewing on. As reported by law firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, the European Commission has filed a lawsuit against five EU nations. The firm's Paul Gershlick writes:

The European Commission is suing five countries for failure to implement the European Union laws that require users’ consent to use of cookies. The laws should have been implemented by May 2011. Only the UK, Denmark and Estonia had complied. The UK’s Information Commissioner gave UK organisations a year’s grace, before starting to enforce in May 2012. Belgium, Holland, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia have still not yet implemented the law, however, and the Commission has threatened to ask for large daily fines until they comply.

That the European Commission would be forced to sue nations over the cookie law is an embarrassment, but it's hardly the first. Most recently, it came to light that the EU itself wasn't adhering to its own law with its own websites. Which raised an obvious question: if the EU can't follow its own laws, why should anybody else?

But now that the European Commission has sued countries over their refusal or inability to implement the cookie law, a more fundamental question emerges: is the law eventually bound to crumble?

Patricio Robles

Published 28 June, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (8)

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I do hope so, it was always a deeply flawed and unnecessary law, a pain to both webmasters and users alike. I must confess that some of my websites are yet to be modified to comply with this legislation.
As for the EU itself not complying with it's own laws, I don't think anyone would be surprised at that. The left hand doesn't even know there is a right hand, let alone have a clue what it is doing.

over 4 years ago


Dirkjan - webwinkel weblog

Didn't the Dutch implement.an even stricter cookie law earlier this month?

over 4 years ago

Robin Moore

Robin Moore, Head of Consultancy at Coast Digital

Probably no going back from here (EU can't lose face on this) but perhaps a modification to the cookie law that renders it useless anyway; non-mandatory or self-regulation. In other words - 'Optional'.

over 4 years ago


David Bennett

Interesting, but I am not sure how you get from 'five countries not complying' to 'Is the writing on the wall for the cookie law?'

Could you expand on your reasoning a bit?

over 4 years ago


Tanielle Lobo

I would like to see some genuine reports on whether it has enhanced or disrupted a customer's experience on a website.

Whether viewers are treating it more like a feedback survey pop-up or like a security threat pop-up.

Either way, as Bright Spark has pointed out, it is a pain for webmasters and users as of now.

Specifically with them trying to impose stricter guidelines on how they want it to appear on the site e.g Not just on the Privacy page etc...

over 4 years ago


Simon Lande, CEO at ActiveStandards

@Robin Moore - agreed probably no going back.

They are taking this seriously and the fines which the European Commission is proposing for the 5 member states which have not yet implemented the laws are very significant - over Eur100,000 per DAY for some countries.

Full details here:


over 4 years ago


Giles Ranyell

From my understanding and experience, most companies will simply elect for the 'Implied Consent' option as a get out clause, which kind of makes a mockery of the objectives in the first place.

They deferred it in the UK as over 90% of the government sites weren't ready to hit the deadline and then just hours before the second deadline they altered the rules! The UK may have a law but if they aren't complying then what kind of message does it send out.

It was designed to target a certain element of internet tracking and as usual it's the innocent who are bearing the brunt and cost. Any of those types of companies just need to be outside the EU and there is nothing the EU can do about it.

over 4 years ago


Peter Drinnan

It is noble in concept but sort of like trying to shut down file sharing or forcing WCAG (web accessibility) rules.

Germany has more web sites than any other country in the world except the U.S. Implementing that law in Germany would impossible.

about 4 years ago

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