Website Holders Must Obtain Consumer’s Informed Consent To Use Cookies And Other Spyware

This summary discusses the Belgian and European rules that apply to the use of spyware (including cookies) in websites. So-called spyware, including hidden identifiers, cookies and other similar devices can enter a user’s terminal equipment without the user’s knowledge in order to gain access to information, to store hidden information or to trace the user’s activities. Such devices may seriously intrude upon the user’s privacy. However, such devices – for instance cookies – can be a legitimate and useful tool, for example in analyzing the effectiveness of website design and advertising, and in verifying the identity of users engaged in on-line transactions.

The following questions have been addressed in this article:

What are the consequences for website holders who use cookies?
What is the future legal framework?
Are non-EU websites subject to the Directive?
Does this Directive prohibit website owners to make access to specific website content conditional on the acceptance of a cookie or similar device?
Must the website owner obtain the user’s or subscriber’s consent at the occasion of each and every connection?

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