Dutch regulator automates cookies enforcement

Dutch cookies enforcement: Following questions raised by a recent job posting on its website, the Dutch telecom regulator OPTA has confirmed that it will resort to automated means to aid them with the supervision of the new Dutch cookie regime.

The 'Cookiemonitor' is expected to scan websites in a similar way to web crawlers for the use and placement of cookies. An OPTA spokesperson has stated: "Sites that place cookies without consent which are hard to remove by the user will be fined promptly". This is likely to refer to the use of Flash-cookies or similar techniques. The spokesperson also said stated that "sites that commit less serious offences are likely to receive a warning first."


The Cookiemonitor is still in development. OPTA has released some FAQ's on cookies (translated in English by international law firm Bird & Bird), but has thus far refrained from any know actions of enforcement.

The new Dutch cookies enforcement regime came into force on 8 June 2012. The rules introduce a stricter regime for most cookies, which is based on informed and explicit consent. It is expected that the new Dutch legislation will be stricter than the implementation of the EU-requirements which has already taken place in most other Member States.

The rules contain reference to the Dutch Data Protection Act which together suggest that the use of cookies for commercial, charitable or idealistic purposes is presumed to involve the processing of personal data. This introduces a burden of proof where the website publisher has to prove that the tracking cookie does not process personal data.

E RADAR's Will Roebuck said:

"I would be interested to see how the Cookiemonitor works. Our current research with Joint Master students from Manchester University's School of Computer Science shows that it's not a simple process to identify all cookies using automated means, where they come from, and who is responsible for them."

It's expected that enforcement of the new regime will increase over the coming months and that other countries will use similar techniques to monitor their cookies regimes.