The previous version of the guidance, seemingly no longer available from the ICO following a quick search, provided, at page 6, that:
“general awareness of the functions and uses of cookies is simply not high enough for websites to look to rely entirely in the first instance on implied consent. As consumer awareness increases over the next few years it may well be easier for organisations to rely on that shared understanding to a greater degree”
What some people appear to have taken away from the revised note, which elaborates on the above, is that the ‘watered down’ guidance means no action is necessary, because implied consent is suddenly an option. However, implied consent (as opposed to requiring a visitor to subscribe, to check a box, or to click a button), was already envisaged by the ICO. In particular, page 16 of the previous guidance explained that, if a notice is displayed asking for permission and the user does not explicitly give it by clicking ‘accept’, instead navigating to another part of the website, then “you might decide that you could set a cookie and infer consent from the fact that the user has seen a clear notice and actively indicated that they are comfortable with cookies by clicking through and using the site”.