Legal Matters: Beware of the Cookie Monster
In principle, the Cookie Directive requires that visitors to websites receive an explanation of the specific nature of the cookies used by the website (except for those cookies that are "strictly necessary" as discussed below) and then consent to accept the cookies before the files can be automatically stored on the user's computer.
Moreover, the risks of noncompliance are considerable. For example, under the United Kingdom (U.K.) law incorporating the EU Directive, penalties of up to £500,000 ($774,500 U.S.) per violation can be imposed. Faced with the prospect of adopting a compliant yet consumer-unfriendly format, electronic merchants in the U.S. might prefer to block European users from buying from their websites altogether.