Every source on the web keeps telling me what the cookie law is, but not whether I have to obey it or not. So I'm asking here: who must obey the cookie law?

  • Is a website hosted by a server physically located in Europe affected by the cookie law?
  • Is a website with a .eu/.it/.fr/.uk domain affected by the cookie law?
  • Is a website owned by an European citizen (or a company registered in Europe) affected by the cookie law?
    • If it is the case, then what if the European citizen owns the domain name but not the physical server?
    • How about the other way round (the citizen owns the server, not the domain)?
  • Perhaps, is a website created by a European citizen affected by the cookie law?
  • Other?
  • Hosting location and domain types makes no difference on regional laws. Any website that receives traffic from EU is subject to EU Cookie Law. Considering that there are hundreds of millions of websites without Cookie Notices its doubtful that this law can be enforced. Aug 3, 2015 at 8:27
  • @SimonHayter I can't understand how a US citizen with a .com domain, with a US registrar and with a server located in the United States be affected by the law. United States are United States, Europe is Europe. How can Europe tell them what to do?
    – user1807
    Aug 3, 2015 at 8:38
  • Because server location or domain doesn't govern laws, if you don't want to comply with a regional law then you can block EU users from using your site. Most major US based companies like CNN, FOX and so forth have cookie warnings for EU audiences. Aug 3, 2015 at 9:36
  • @user1807 — Want to have customers in Europe? Want to take money from people in Europe? Want to post goods to Europe?
    – Quentin
    Aug 3, 2015 at 10:17
  • @Quentin: actually I just want to run analytics on my personal blog :)
    – user1807
    Aug 3, 2015 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


Your find a lot of information by searching on Google, with any website if the website is accessible by a country or regional zone then you most comply with their rules and laws, if you don't agree then you should make attempts to notify users or block those users from your website.

Hosting a website in X, a domain in X doesn't mean it can't break laws in Y or Z.


We're outside of the EU, are we affected?

The law is designed to protect the privacy of individuals within the EU. In theory, this means that any website that serves EU citizens, has to comply with respect to those citizens, regardless of who owns the website.

In practice, as enforcement is on a country by country basis, any company which has no legal EU presence, is going to be very hard to pursue a case against.

This is one reason that a lot of commentators have suggested it hands advantages to non-EU businesses. A website owned by a US company can avoid the law and still serve content to the EU, whilst gathering better information about visitors and enabling them to avoid compliance notices.

If your website serves US and EU then rather than having a cookie notice for all users you could detect users based on IP and serve cookie notices for EU based audiences. Most big US websites use this method.

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