More than 40% of internet users refuse to accept cookies if asked to opt in when visiting a website, according to new data from QuBit.

However 99.9% give consent if they are simply notified that a site uses cookies. The data was compiled from more than 500,000 user interactions through QuBit’s Cookie Consent tool.

Since the new EU e-Privacy Directive came into force a few weeks ago, notification appears to be the most common method of complying with the law.

Rather than using pop-ups to explicitly ask users for their consent, retailers such as John Lewis, M&S and Amazon have simply made links to their cookie policy more prominent.

When the law was first published it was thought this approach would not be compliant, but the Information Commissioners Office has told us that it will be taking a lenient approach so it’s unlikely these sites will be forced to do anything different.

QuBit’s tool also has a third setting which assumes users are willing to accept cookies unless they opt out – in this case 99.7% of users gave consent.

Therefore, if the ICO eventually says notification isn’t enough, this data indicates that sites can still achieve nearly 100% permission from users by assuming implicit consent from all site visitors.

This is similar to the actions taken by the BBC and Channel 4, both of which assume users will give their consent as agreeing to cookies is the only option presented on their homepages.

Overall, the levels of consent achieved in the first few weeks since the cookie law came into force are encouraging and should allay the fears of those who thought users would opt out in droves.

However, it also shows that explicitly asking users for their consent could potentially lead to a high number of people refusing to accept cookies.