Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
cookies, eu

EU's Cookie Law Should Crumble

from the not-a-good-situation dept

A bunch of folks have been sending in versions of this story about new EU cookie rules that will require anyone placing cookies on your computer to first get consent. This is the sort of law that is passed by people who don't understand the technology at all, and misinterpret "cookies" as automatically being malicious. This is the sort of thing that people who were first understanding the web got concerned about a decade ago, until they realized it was nothing to worry about. Except... it appears some people haven't quite figured that out yet, and tragically, they make laws in the EU.

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  1. icon
    bugmenot (profile), 14 Nov 2009 @ 2:57pm

    so Your to rely on the ignorance and apathy of the general population to ignore security: "out of sight out of mind as it were!"

    clearly your not thinking this through, its a good thing.

    and re-enforces all the old law we already had availanle to protect our personal data streams and our personal copyrights....

    theres a twist, using copyright for the protection of the people.... Not the Corporations.

    think about it.
    Personally I don’t see this as a bad thing because people need to be more aware of what data they are giving away and what it is being used for – so I am all for a little bit of inconvenience or annoyance to educate the general public on privacy. But many people will be annoyed about it.

    However, on the positive side – this also means that tracking cookies (which are used by a countless number of advertising networks and behavioural profiling companies) and Local Stored Objects (LSO or Flash Cookies) – will now also have to present users with a clear explanation as to what they are, what they collect and what they will be used for.

    As we saw in a recent research paper over 60% of consumers in the US do not want Behavioural Advertising so it is reasonable to assume the same would most probably apply with EU countries as well – in fact we may well see even more people opposed to it in EU states given the last couple of years of campaigning on the subject by privacy advocates (such as the members of this web site) meaning it is very much an issue which is in the public focus.

    This is exactly what companies like Phorm and Audience Science did not want to happen – Opt-Out meant they could rely on the ignorance and apathy of the general population not to bother with opting out meaning they would capture a large percentage of the market without the consumers even knowing what was going on.

    Now however, not only must they get permission from people (opt-in) but they also must give truthful and accurate information to consumers as to what they are doing – which is far more likely to illicit a reaction of NOT opting in as people do not want to be tracked.

    This is going to hit the bottom lines of these companies very hard indeed and it is likely (in my opinion) that their revenues are in for a dramatic decline. I would be suprised if they can capture even 30% of the market with the new regulations – a long way from the current 90+% they probably have under Opt-Out models.

    The changes would also make it illegal for companies to reset traditional cookies or gather behavioural information with Flash Cookies (LSO) without consent – which has become a new trend as advertisers realised they could bypass countermeasures which led to the deletion of their tracking cookies from users machines (such as deleting cookies when a browser is closed or only allowing session cookies – which are popular features of modern browsers and plugins).

    Of course, as always – the devil is in the details. We need to keep pushing parliamentarians to make sure that this is added to UK law in an appropriate way.


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