EU Takes Five Countries To Court Over Cookie Law

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Massive fines are threatening Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia

The European Commission has decided to refer Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to introduce the revised EU telecoms rules into their national laws before the 25 May deadline.

The set of rules in question includes the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, popularly known as the “cookie law”.

The Commission also suggested the member states should be fined daily for the amounts raging from €13,063 (£10,523) for Slovenia to €112,190 (£90,377) for Poland, until they implement the new policy.

Evil biscuits

The revised EU rules on telecoms networks and services were formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council in late 2009. They were supposed to be implemented into members’ national laws by 25 May 2011, with one year grace period.

According to the European Commission, the other 22 countries, including the UK, which have implemented EU telecoms rules now “guarantee more competitive markets for consumers and businesses and give EU customers new rights.”

These rights include being able to switch a phone operator in one day without changing the number, and being informed when tracking cookies are used on a website.

The new rules also include extensive guidelines on data protection (including the deadlines on reporting breaches) and even measures to better fight spam.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission has the right to impose financial sanctions on member states that do not conform to rules set out for the whole of EU.

The size of the potential fine depends on the size of the member state and stands as follows:

  • Slovenia €13,063,68
  • Portugal €22,014,72
  • Belgium €70,353,36
  • The Netherlands €105,688,8
  • Poland €112,190,4

In the UK, the new rules became law last year, but that doesn’t mean anyone takes the cookie law seriously. By April, just five percent of UK businesses had got in line with the European guidelines, even though data protection watchdog the ICO now has the power to fine companies up to £500,000 if it believes an infraction is serious enough.

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