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New ICO Online Code confirms opt-out for cookies

In defiance of the prevailing opinion amongst European Regulators, the new ICO Online Code of Practice permits the use of cookies and behavioural advertising under an opt-out rather than an opt-in.

The Code covers a range of activities such as collecting a person’s details through an online application form; using cookies or IP addresses to target content at a particular individual; using personal data to market goods or to deliver public services and using cloud computing facilities to process personal data.

Information Commissioner Chris Graham in his introduction to the code stresses “the importance of transparency, of treating consumers’ information properly and being straight with people about how you use their information” but there is no mention of a requirement for opt-in (except where sensitive data is concerned). The code advises that a data controller should be “open about the techniques it uses and make clear the options people have to opt out of marketing, including the use of web browser settings. This allows individuals to make an informed choice about whether to use a particular service.”

Another area that the Code covers is the online collection of data from children. The recommended best practice guidance suggests parental consent would be necessary were the information to be used for marketing.

The code can be accessed via this link  

More advice for marketers about on and offline marketing is available in the new edition of the DMA Direct Marketing Code of Practice. The code includes a new annex on marketing to children and also makes it a requirement for members to seek parental consent.

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