The majority of people who use the internet may be satisfied that new laws regarding the use of cookies on websites are a step in the right directions.

Cookies – small files containing personal details such as browsing habits – are used by many websites to offer a more personalised experience to visitors and offer more targeted ads, but privacy campaigners have raised concerns about the collection of data without an individual’s permission.

Therefore, a new directive from the EU is set to come into force this month that will require websites to obtain explicit permission from users before storing cookies on their PC.

However, a survey by IMRG and eDigitalResearch found there is a widespread lack of knowledge about the change, with three-quarters of online consumers unaware of the directive, while eight per cent had never heard of cookies.

Despite this, when they are made aware of the implications of the new rules, 89 per cent said it would be a positive move in helping people control what data they share when browsing the internet.

Head of communications at IMRG Andy Mulcahy said: “There has been a lot of concern in the industry that the new cookie requirements could prove disruptive to the user experience and lead to potential customers leaving a site through concern at what they are agreeing to by accepting cookies.”

He added it is therefore essential for websites to make clear to visitors what their cookie policy is and what benefits consumers could expect to see by allowed them to store cookies.

The research also found 23 per cent of people would be happy to accept cookies if it improves their browsing experience, although a third of respondents were wary of the items, believing they could be used for viruses and Trojans.

It was noted by editor of Econsultancy Graham Charlton that most users have nothing to fear from cookies and they can often help improve a website by learning people’s usage patterns.

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