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Small businesses need to be careful of the European Union cookie law - although so far most countries seem to be ignoring it.

Many websites drop cookies, a small piece of software, onto visitors' machines to help with navigation, page view counts and to remember users' log-in details.

But changes to European privacy law last month mean that cookies are now included in Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Businesses must get users' consent before installing cookies and follow rules in storing and accessing information gathered from them.

The Forum of Private Business is warning small firms to make sure they're following the new rules.

The FPB also notes that the UK regulator - the Information Commissioner's Office - has said it will give firms up to a year to fix any problems.

But the FPB said that with the threat of £500,000 fines for non-compliance, business owners should check their sites are following the new rules. ®

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