Earlier today we highlighted the complete lack of direction from any Church of England Diocese to help parishes deal with the new EU Cookie Law. We couldn’t find a single Diocese where there was clear evidence of guidance being issued to help churches with websites to comply with the law. Since then we’ve had more and more people getting in touch telling us that they didn’t even realise that they needed to do anything. We also heard an interesting account about one church once consecrating biscuits instead of bread, but that’s another story for another time.
So, what to do? Well, luckily the Twurch is here and we can help. We’ve written this short guide to help you handle the EU Cookie Law and to make sure that your site is fully compliant. And for most people, that’s not going to take more than ten minutes.
What is the Law?
Failure to comply can lead to prosecution and a potentially large fine. In reality, a small church website is unlikely to be hassled in this way, but it just needs one person to take an objection to your church and to register a complaint for you to possibly land in trouble. Also, there’s a simple Romans 13:1 principle at stake as well.
Are you using Cookies?
To check if your site is using cookies (if you’re in any doubt), simply download one of these tools depending on which browser you are using and let it tell you by navigating to your own site.
- Firefox - View Cookies
- Chrome - Crumbs - this is our favourite – simply navigate to any site and it automatically tells you how many cookies are stored on your computer from that site
- Internet Explorer – Nothing we could find easily. If you know of one, tell us!
Making Your Website Compliant – The Easy Approach
There is more information on “Implied Consent” here.
Making Your Website Compliant – The Full-On Approach
So, what to do. Follow this simple list.
- Go to the Civic UK Cookie Law page and see whether there’s a plugin already written for your website. For websites using WordPress and Drupal there’s already a plugin written for both of those systems, so you simply need to download it and install it like you would any other plugin.
- If you aren’t running WordPress or Drupal you need to do a bit more work. The page helps you create some code that can be inserted in your web-pages to run the compliance software. Choose which shape icon you want, whether you want the little pop-up to appear on the left or right hand side of the page and whether you want a light or dark background to the pop-up (to fit the general feel of your site). There are two boxes of text that you can change, but for most sites the standard text already in place should be adequate.
- Once you get to the next page there are two things that you need to do. Firstly, you need to download the clever piece of code that does all the work. You do this by clicking on the “Download the Cookie Control script here” link and, well, downloading the code. This file then needs to be FTPed up to your website, to the root of your hosting, the same place where the homepage of your site lives. Without this script nothing will work.
Then, you need to copy your custom code which appears on the left-hand side, and crucially, make sure you change where it says “/PATH_TO_COOKIE_CONTROL” to your domain. For example, at the Twurch our line in the code would look like - src=”http://www.twurchofengland.org.uk/cookieControl-4.1.min.js”.
This edited code needs to go into every page on your website and it needs to go between the <body> tags. This isn’t as hard as it sounds as most good websites have a header or a footer that loads into every page, so you can put this code into that header or footer and it will automatically run on every page. If your website is still hard-coded and just has separate HTML for each page, you really should be thinking about moving to a proper Content Management System.
- WordPress and Drupal users can find these settings in their settings page for the plugin (for example the WordPress plugin creates a separate menu item with all its configuration details).
If you think that sounds frightening, don’t panic. For 99% of all websites you won’t be using any special cookies beyond a site visits tracking cookie. Whether you use Google Analytics or other code (though why would you want to use anything else apart from Google Analytics we don’t know), the worked example on the CivicUK site shows you exactly what to do.
It’s as simple as that. A little bit of work and you’re fully covered. If you find all this a bit daunting and you’re running an old website that you don’t really understand, perhaps this is the nudge you need to move to a system like WordPress. Alternatively, given that for most sites the full solution involves downloading one file, pasting some code into another file and then editing one or two other bits of code, you could use the experience of making your site EU Cookie Law Compliant an opportunity to discover a little bit more about how your website works. And remember, the “implicit consent” solution above should be fine for most people and if your website doesn’t use any cookies you don’t need to do anything at all!
Joomla users should note that there is a Joomla Extension entitled “Cookie Monster” that has had some great reviews and does roughly the same thing as the Civic UK WordPress plugin. Here at the Twurch we haven’t tested it, so use at your own risk. Alternatively, the Civic UK site are working on a Joomla plugin and until that comes along they have a page to help you set-up their code in a Joomla installation.
You should also consider putting a notice on your comment form making it explicit that you will store the message that is sent to you. You should also consider using a similar message where readers enter comments on blog posts.
If you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask. Unfortunately we can’t help you with the actual installation of a solution on your website, so please don’t ask us to, but we’ll try to answer general questions below. You can also contact the CivicUK team directly and they may be able to help.
If you do want some technical help we know some very good Christian web designers up and down the country who we can put you in touch with. Please note though that these men and women provide professional services and you should expect to pay for any help you receive.