So do the ICO have cookie law at the top of their list? Do the public understand cookies well enough to be bothered about reporting their improper usage?
Well I made a Freedom Of Information request to the ICO to find out – specifically asking how many sites had complaints made against them in 2013 and enquiring about any follow up actions.
The information I requested is in bold below…
The number of websites that have had a complaint lodged against them by a member of the public during the period Jan 2013 – Jan 2014 inclusive.
ICO reply: A total of 220 concerns about individual websites have been about brought to our attention via the reporting tool for the period between Jan 2013 and Jan 2014.
The number of websites that have had more than 1 complaint lodged against them by a member of the public during the period Jan 2013 – Jan 2014 inclusive.
ICO reply: 18 of these were organisations that were raised as concerns with us more than once.
The number of warning notices (emails/letters) issued to websites that have had a complaint lodged against them by a member of the public during the period Jan 2013 – Jan 2014 inclusive.
ICO reply: We sent out a total of 51 letters in the time period for which information was requested.
The number of websites that have had any action taken against them (above and beyond a warning letter/email/notice) as a direct result of member of the public raising a complaint during the period Jan 2013 – Jan 2014 inclusive.
ICO reply: We have not taken any formal action beyond writing to organisations and discussing their compliance with them. As is reflected online, this has resulted to sites taking significant steps, so formal enforcement has not been necessary.
If huge sites like Amazon and Tesco don’t have ugly and often overly intrusive banners or popups about cookies – why should anyone else? I imagine their vast legal teams told them to ignore it and wait for any warning letters that might arrive before taking action…
P.S. The reply from the ICO also made clear that whilst they receive “very low levels of concerns reported by members of the public” in relation to cookies, the emphasis is still every much on “unwanted marketing communications” – they received over 29,000 complaints of this nature in Q4 of 2013 alone.