What you need to know about the new website law

What you need to know about the new website law

So who remembers the cookies panic from a few years ago? When website owners were obliged to put obtrusive cookies notices on their websites for the first time:

This is what cookies are; this is what cookies do; now click here to signify your consent to their use. Not that you really have any choice if you want this website to work properly. Does this make any sense to you? No, I thought not.

Many businesses weren't particularly keen on these notices: understandable really, given that many of their technophobic customers simply failed to understand what they all meant.

Even worse, hundreds, if not thousands, of biscuits were lovingly baked and painstakingly photographed only to be callously thrown away on the first morning after Cookie D-Day (26 May 2012), their sole use being as stock images in the embarrassment of articles on the cookies law.

The satirical website, the Daily Mash, summed up the cookies law neatly in their notice:

We’ve updated our privacy policy, not that you care. You can read it or click [on a button stating 'Whatever'] to get rid of this annoying box and carry on as before

So if 2012 was the year of the 'Great Cookie Panic*', what will 2014 turn out to be?

In our considered estimation, 2014 will be the year of the 'No Going Back Button', when Internet traders need to update their online ordering and payment systems to ensure that they comply with the Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU). The English law implementing the directive comes into force on 13 June 2014.

So what exactly do businesses need know?

Let's have a look at the actual text of the new implementing English law: the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

Regulation 14(4) of these Regulations states:

If placing an order entails [a consumer] activating a button or a similar function, the trader must ensure that the button or similar function is labelled in an easily legible manner only with the words ‘order with obligation to pay’ or a corresponding unambiguous formulation indicating that placing the order entails an obligation to pay the trader

In other words, businesses need to ensure that

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