EU Cookie Law Explained
The EU Cookie law (e-Privacy Directive) explained.
If you are a website owner, you may have heard rumors over the past year or so about the heavily contested, very confusing and slightly mad EU Cookie law (e-Privacy Directive). Well we thought we would shed a little light and opinion on the subject for those searching the web for some kind of guidance as to what their next steps are.
The EU Law was conceived to protect users privacy and came into effect in May 2011 and from May 2012 is in fact a legal requirement, but since half the government websites themselves are not currently compliant they are not pushing it too heavily as it would obviously be slightly hypocritical.
It all started because, advertisers wanted to target users with more relevant ad content, so they thought it would be a good idea to track users internet usage with cookies, and follow this up by feeding them relevant adverts to the web pages they have previously visited i.e. 'behavioural targeting'. It sounds like a genius idea and actually rather useful but in fact it ended up generating a huge amount of complaints because your day-to-day internet user had no idea their movements were being tracked in such detail, and after they did realise they were not happy bunnies.
The ICO has made it clear they are not intending to start a crack-down but they do want to see compliance, especially with larger, more public sites that already house a lot of advertising. That said, they do appreciate that it requires effort and money to become compliant.
Our view is that it's a little like the 17.5% to 20% VAT switch over; lots of accountants made good money because all the businesses had to comply with the new rate meaning all labels had to be changed, tills reset, stock re-priced, cash flows re-worked and software adjusted, all-in-all probably costing the businesses a collective small fortune. I guess as the Digital Agency who has to carry out the work, we are in fact 'the accountant' in this scenario but as a company that spends a great deal of time reducing the amount of clicks a user has to carry out on their journey to their desired content, I can't help but resent this extra click stage. Essentially, users have complained and they have been answered with a more complex and frustrating user journey. A bit of a backward step really.
Perhaps other areas of the world are looking at this EU Law and thinking we are all a little naive and crazy to really believe no one was tracking our internet usage but at least people are now more aware and our privacy is being considered and scrutinised, which will in turn effect the wider privacy debate, specially in an digital age where there's very little privacy left at all.
More information on this law can be found at the ICO website directly.