TRUSTe privacy research finds high consumer awareness of internet cookies, but 71% not aware of imminent
'cookie' law

With only two days left until the EU Cookie Directive comes into force in the UK, a TRUSTe privacy survey conducted online by Ipsos MORI reveals that 84% of online consumers aged 16-64 are aware of internet cookies, but only 1 in 4 (24%) are aware that under UK law companies must comply with the Directive by May 26th.The Directive requires a user's informed consent before companies can store or access information (via cookies, online trackers, and other means) from a user's computer or other computing devices.

While online consumer cookie awareness is high (84%), their awareness of the broader category of website trackers (which includes cookies and other technologies like tracking pixels) is markedly lower, at 58%. An April 2011 TRUSTe privacy survey found that top UK websites carry an average of 14 online trackers per page, of which more than two-thirds come from third-parties unaffiliated with the company operating the website. The two studies suggest a large gap between the widespread use of website trackers and actual consumer awareness of the practice.

Among online consumers who were aware of the Cookie Directive, the survey revealed strong attitudes and expectations around the Directive. TRUSTe found that 78% of these consumers expect companies to comply with the Directive and 55% plan to only visit compliant websites going forward. The survey also found a large percentage (51%) of all online consumers surveyed were uncertain of their intentions, suggesting the percentage of people who will avoid visiting non-compliant websites is even higher. These findings are consistent with a March 2011 TRUSTe privacy survey of UK consumers conducted by Harris Interactive, in which 88% said they avoid doing business with companies they believe do not protect their privacy. They are also consistent with the findings from a 2011 survey by the Information Commissioner's Office, which found that protecting personal information is the second highest public concern in the UK, ahead of unemployment, health and national security.

"UK consumers are greatly concerned about online tracking and privacy and yet our research reveals that most remain unaware of the measures that are about to come into force to address this issue," said Chris Babel, CEO of TRUSTe.

"TRUSTe is committed to educating consumers on these issues and supporting our business customers in addressing the requirements of this Directive in the UK and across the European Union. We have a deep history of delivering flexible technology solutions that enable companies to implement innovative online business models while providing privacy-friendly consumer experiences."

Detailed findings from this TRUSTe research include:

  • 86% of frequent (multiple times per day) internet users are aware of cookies, compared to only 58% awareness among weekly users.
  • Males are more likely than females to be aware of online trackers (68% vs. 48%)
  • 29% of consumers from East Anglia (small base size) are aware of the EU Cookie Directive, compared to only 16% from the North East.
  • 30% of males are aware that companies must get consumer consent to place cookies on their devices (come May 26th) compared to only 18% of females

The British Consumer Awareness of the EU Cookie Directive Survey was conducted online by Ipsos MORI on behalf of TRUSTe among a total of 2,004 adults aged 16-64 in Great Britain from 11 - 14 May 2012 via its Online Omnibus Survey. The survey data were weighted by age, gender, region and social grade, working status and main householder shopper to be nationally representative of online GB adults aged 16-64.

Notes To Editors

  1. TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across their customer, employee, and vendor channels. Our SaaS-based DPM Platform gives users control over all phases of data privacy management from conducting assessments and implementing compliance controls to managing ongoing monitoring. Our DPM Services, including assessments and certifications, are delivered by an expert team of privacy professionals. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on TRUSTe to minimize compliance risk and protect their brand.

  2. The UK Website Privacy Index published on the 18 April 2012, was created by conducting an in-depth analysis of the privacy policies and tracking activities on the top 50 UK websites, as ranked by web analytics firm Alexa Internet, Inc. in March 2012. To view the TRUSTe Privacy Index: 2012 UK Website Edition go to UK Website Edition.

  3. The Great Britain Consumer Confidence Privacy Index (Q1 2012) published on 20 March 2012, was conducted online by Harris Interactive, on behalf of TRUSTe among a total of 2,012 adults aged 16 and older within Great Britain from 28 February - 7 March 2012 via its Global Omnibus product. Complete survey methodologies, including weighting variables are available on request. To view the TRUSTe Privacy Index: Great Britain Consumer Confidence Edition go to British consumer confidence privacy survey.

  4. For TRUSTe UK media enquiries and interview requests please contact Eleanor Treharne-Jones at +44 (0) 7811 093648 or e-mail