Will Brexit Mean the End of Cookie Notifications?

— 2 minutes, 13 seconds read —
brexit cookie notification eu

You may remember back in May 2012 that every website we visited suddenly started notifying us about their use of cookies – the small data files downloaded to our computers each time we visit a new website which record our browsing history.

This mildly irritating new feature marked a change in EU law surrounding data protection rules, requiring all EU citizens to be able to consent to their data being shared.

As a result, web users suddenly found they couldn’t land on a website without being forcibly informed of the fact that the website would be using cookies; usually through the introduction of un-ignorable pop-up boxes which needed our ‘tick’ of consent before they would disappear.

Thankfully these notifications have become less conspicuous over the years, now often reduced to a small bar at the top or bottom of a web page. However, now that the UK has voted to leave the EU, people are wondering what, if anything, this might mean for the future of the cookie laws.

Will cookie notices disappear?

With all of the speculation and fear about how Brexit could change the UK for the worse – not to mention the jokes flying around on social media about the UK’s even more bleak Eurovision prospects and a predicted croissant shortage – the prospect of losing the cookie notification is, by comparison, almost cheerful.

Like most of the predictions surrounding the effects of Brexit during this period of political limbo, however, it’s mostly just speculation for now. Besides, with the mountains of complex paperwork the government will be faced with over the next two years, it’s likely that the cookie law may take a back seat to begin with.

There is one factor that does suggest that the cookie notifications will remain, though, and that’s the fact that the EU data laws are largely mirrored by the UK’s own electronic privacy regulations. Plus, the rules requiring cookie notifications are now written into domestic law, making it unlikely that simply leaving the European Union would spell an end to these rules.

A spokesperson from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recently said “the UK will continue to need clear and effective data protection laws, whether or not the country remains part of the EU”, though they declined to comment definitively on the future of the cookie law itself.

The ICO also added that “having clear laws with safeguards in place is more important than ever given the growing digital economy, and is also central to the sharing of data that international trade relies on.”

This is hard to argue with, no matter how inconvenient the notifications may be. So it looks like they are here to stay after all, Brexit or no Brexit.