What is the [new] Cookie Law?
First and foremost, this is NOT a NEW law!
It has been around for quite some time, but the latest updates to the European Directive (published in May 2011) became legally enforcable on 26th May 2012.
A Brief History
In 2003 a European Directive regarding privacy in electronic communications was implemented. In 2009 this Directive was amended to require consent for the storage/access of information (e.g. cookies) via a computer or similar device. The UK Government introduced this on 25th May 2011 via The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive)(Amendment) Regulations 2011.
The Information Commisioner's Office (ICO) gave website owners 12 months to implement the changes required to comply with the new legislation, after which the regulations would become legally enforcable and a fine of up to £500,000 could be levied for non-compliance.
If you just read that last paragraph and started to panic - don't! Instead, please read on...
As long as you are seen to be taking steps towards compliance with the legislation, it is VERY unlikely that the ICO will be knocking on your electronic door any time soon.
What to do next...