ICO Warns Organizations to Proactively Make Advertising Cookies Compliant

The UK ICO warns organizations to proactively make advertising cookies compliant after positive response to November call to action.

Last November the UK ICO wrote to 53 of the UK’s top 100 websites, warning that they faced enforcement action if they did not make changes to advertising cookies to comply with data protection law.

The ICO had an overwhelmingly positive response to this call to action. Of the 53 organizations contacted, 38 organizations have changed their cookies banners to be compliant and four have committed to reach compliance within the next month.

Several others are working to develop alternative solutions, including contextual advertising and subscription models. The ICO will provide further clarity on how these models can be implemented in compliance with data protection law in the next month.

The ICO expects all websites using advertising cookies or similar technologies to give people a fair choice over whether they consent to the use of such technologies. Where organizations continue to ignore the law, they can expect to face the consequences.

The ICO does not intend to stop with just these top 100 websites. They are already preparing to write to the next 100 – and the 100 after that.

To accelerate efforts, the ICO is developing an AI solution to help identify websites using non-compliant cookie banners. The ICO intends to run a ‘hackathon’ event early in 2024 to explore what this AI solution might look like in practice.

The ICO’s advice to all organizations is to take action now to become compliant. They can already see the ripple effect of their intervention with many organizations making changes to cookie banners without receiving a letter.

And as the ICO will be steadily working their way through the list of websites offering services to UK users to give them all the same message, it makes sense to be compliant before the regulator comes knocking.