ICO Warns About Lifespan of Some Cookies

February 23, 2015

The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) has started to bash the way some websites are using cookies, after an international privacy study has announced that a website cookie can have a lifespan of up to 7,984 years. They revealed that there are some sites that place cookies on devices that will outlast the productivity of the device. Out of the 16,555 cookies that they surveyed, only three were expected to last until the end of 9999. The average lifespan was a shocking one or two years.

Simon Rice, the ICO group manager for technology said, “any web developer will tell you that cookies are a vital tool for making the web work. However, the number of cookies out there may come as a surprise to many, particularly in the UK where the average website sets more cookies than for any of the other countries surveyed. There’s clearly an issue with the lifespan of some of these cookies.” He announced this after revealing that there was an average of 44 cookies on the first visit of UK sites, which is the highest of any other country surveyed. Even higher than the global average of 34.

Rice stated “developers must consider the implications of using settings in their code. Setting a long expiry on a cookie means that it will not only outlive the usefulness of the device, but also the person using it at the time. It is difficult to justify an expiry date in the year 9999 for even the most innocent of purposes.”

Despite this, Simon Rice did applaud the UK for “performing better than our European counterparts when it comes to informing people about the use of cookies on their website.” Although he alerted: “we will be writing to those who are still failing to provide basic information on their website before considering whether further action is required.”

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