New Cookie Law Will Require User Consent Before Placing Cookies

by Klaus on November 13, 2009

in Tech News

cookie_law_euThis is so whacked I couldn’t believe my own eyes when I first read about it. I don’t mind EU at all, I actually prefer to be in the European Union and all that crap, but every now and then something comes along that makes you wonder how stoned those law-making people really are and how many magic mushrooms they’re having for lunch.

Actually, I’m so amazed by this law that I’m not even prepared to guarantee that it’s real, but the sources I’ve seen it mentioned on so far, are usually quite credible.

The Cookie Law

A law that demands users giving consent to receiving Internet cookies has been approved and will be in force across EU within 18 months. Basically whenever you’re entering a site in the EU you will be asked whether or not you want to accept cookies from that site (I don’t see how else the site could get a user consent?).

There are one exception though.

A cookie may be placed without user consent if it’s “strictly necessary” for the provision of a service “explicitly requested” by the user. Like taking the user from a product page to a checkout, when ordering stuff, out-law.com mentions as an example.

How Would You Like That Cookie, Sir?

Asking permission from the user to place cookies on their computer might be just about as cumbersome as it sounds. You could use pop-ups, but what about pop-up blockers that are standard in all browsers today? No good.

Or you could create a landing page with information and offer options that goes something along those lines, which out-law.com summarizes pretty well:

The choices for users could be:

  • Give me a load of cookies, now and in future visits, and let me get where I wanted to go in the first place – and please don’t interrupt me like this again.
  • Cookies sound evil. I’m going to use American sites instead, because they don’t scare me with this cookie nonsense.
  • I don’t want cookies from your advertising partners, but I’ll gladly pay for an ad-free version of your site. What’s that you say? I need cookies for that too? OK, but just a few please.

You need to ask each new visitor just once, of course – until the visitor deletes his ‘consent’ cookie. Like a blow to the head, that action will cause your site to forget that you’ve actually met before and you’ll welcome the visitor like a stranger.

A New Hope

As far as I can tell, the law has already been approved, not much to do there. But between now and April 2011, there are apparently two steps that could be an opportunity to mitigate the impact of the law. First when the Directive will be moved into national laws and second, when we’ll get guidance from regulatory bodies.

Fingers crossed!

Getting Fed Up By Cookies

In real life, the more cookies you eat, the more weight you gain. More or less. In the online world, it’s almost the other way around. The more cookies advertisers are giving away, the more money they make on said advertisements. More or less.

Cookies are often used by advertisers on sites. Not to harm you, but to “track” you and serve you relevant ads. Who doesn’t want to see ads on stuff that we’re interested in, rather than seeing an ad about The Worlds Best Cookie Dough when you’re on a diet and actually just want to research getting a new iPhone?

If you’re an affiliate or Internet Marketer, how well do you think your business will do when all your leads will have to accept receiving a “tracked to affiliate John Doe”-cookie after having clicked your referral link?

A visit to one of the online newspaper sites I visit daily, resulted in over 30 cookies in my browser. I probably wouldn’t have clicked “Yes, give me that cookie… and that… oh yes please, the voting cookie, I want that too… not the advertising cookies please, I’m not in the mood for that today”.

The good news though – at least it seems like EU intend a consent cookie to be placed, so you don’t have to allow every single cookie after that, thus avoiding a situation like the one above – but if/when you delete the consent cookie, you’re once again a stranger to the site.

Cookie, Cookie In the Jar, Who’s….

There are more to cookies than meets the eye. For users, they’re great to keep you logged into sites or knowing what language you want displayed on your visits and stuff like that. For site owners, they provide valuable insight in form of Google Analytics and other analytics software to better optimize their websites. Google Analytics, for instance, also uses cookies to do that.

Of course it’s still possible to do some analytics tracking without cookies – but I have enough trust in Google to be pretty sure that there’s a reason Google wanted cookies for analytics in the first place.

But What If…

What I’m curious about is:

  • What if the website is own by a European company but hosted in the US?
  • What if the website is own by a US company, but hosted in the EU?
  • What if the site is hosted in the EU and disobeys this new cookie law, what will happen?
  • What if it’s all pure US based but the visitor is from the EU?
  • What if the European Union sober up and realize just how stupid this law is, will they still be able to “unapprove” it?

Now, wait a minute.

We’re not supposed to look at this whole cookie law as a problem. Instead, we should be positive and look at it as an opportunity. Except, I’m empty … so leave a comment below and tell me what you think about this European Union Cookie Law and/or how we can turn this problem into an opportunity?

Don’t forget to share – click Digg, Stumble, Retweet or Facebook below. Thanks, have a cookie!

Source: Consent will be required for cookies in Europe.

Comments & Leave a Comment

comments

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Extreme John November 14, 2009 at 05:16

Holy crap that is pretty friggin dumb, the internet laws over the next 10 years will be ridiculous.
.-= Extreme John´s last blog ..Google Custom Search Now on Extreme John =-.

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 15, 2009 at 00:59

I agree, it is dumb. US gets FTC and EU gets a cookie law. I guess it won’t be long till we all have to move to China and prefer to have censorshop instead 🙂
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Facebook Coming To A PlayStation 3 Near You =-.

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Sire November 14, 2009 at 05:18

Weird. I reckon if it ever comes to fruition that there will be a whole lot of sites that will start hosting overseas rather than in Europe.

Cookies aren’t all that bad, they’re easy enough to delete and I’m sure most browsers have setting that disallow cookies to some extent.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..The Myth That DoFollow Leaches Your PR =-.

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 15, 2009 at 01:00

That’s the thing. If the sites are hosted overseas, what will happen?

If only browsers started to automatically reject browsers from 3rd party sites, maybe it won’t be too bad.

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Sire November 15, 2009 at 01:29

Can you honestly see that happening any time soon?
.-= Sire´s last blog ..The Myth That DoFollow Leaches Your PR =-.

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 15, 2009 at 01:31

I’m not sure. I once tested to see if it was possible to make a browser accept cookies from 3rd parties but another developer told me that the standard settings in his Internet Explorer 8 was to “reject” 3rd party cookies.

My Firefox is currently accepting them – so I don’t know what the default is.

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Sire November 15, 2009 at 01:49

Yeah, well it’s all too complicated for me, but I’m sure you will post about it when something new comes up.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..The Myth That DoFollow Leaches Your PR =-.

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 15, 2009 at 01:50

I certainly will – as soon as it appears under my nose 🙂

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Alan @ Basin Glass Co. November 14, 2009 at 05:55

It’s pretty insane. They hate that the Internet has little regulation so they have to fiddle with it. I also saw on the news the other day that they were having meetings in Europe to establish laws to fine ISPs if they facilitate the transfer of copyright content. I guess we can look forward to tons and tons of Internet regulation in the coming years 🙁

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 15, 2009 at 01:01

It’s crazy. Hopefully it will still be possible to use SSL or something online to protect all your activites – not to download illegal stuff, but to avoid Big Brother watching every move.
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..FFF: iJustine Shows How To Shoot A Video (1 Chick, Lots Of Tips!) =-.

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DiTesco November 14, 2009 at 08:49

After the FTC guidelines, now comes the can you have a “cookie” please. Pretty soon our websites will be full of Private Policies, Disclosures, and warning signs that we might as well not have any content at all. I wonder how Google will react to this. Curious, interesting and stupid. I would really love to see how this will play in practical terms.
.-= DiTesco´s last blog ..Amazon’s Make Money With Twitter Program =-.

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 15, 2009 at 01:03

Not sure if the FTC applies to sites being hosted outside of the US. Or if it applies to all sites owned by US citizens no matter where they are hosted?

Either way … US = FTC … EU = cookie law.

The FTC thing I don’t mind, that’s only fair. But the cookie law is plain stupid.
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..FFF: iJustine Shows How To Shoot A Video (1 Chick, Lots Of Tips!) =-.

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martin November 14, 2009 at 13:40

thats gonna blow .. can’t we just replace cookies with cakes? same deal, new name 😀

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 15, 2009 at 01:03

That’s gotta be a job for Mozilla, then we can all use Firefox in the future 🙂

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Keith@Norman Rockwell Art November 23, 2009 at 04:36

The really funny thing is when they ask someone who has no clue what a cookie is. Will the uninitiated think that they are on an order page? Will they wonder why there’s no chocolate chip or macadamia nut cookies offered?

The bureaucrats and lawmakers apparently do not have enough to keep themselves busy, so they need to intrude in the lives of the people they claim to be protecting.

And, of course, some people will mistakenly refuse cookies, and then their real problems will start. They will be unable to order or even participate like they could just moments before they were “protected” by being given a choice. Hopefully the notice will explain the consequences of refusing cookies.

That will probably be an afterthought and take months to implement after it comes out of the oversight committee. Informed consent will help keep visitors from ruining their internet experience.

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martin November 23, 2009 at 09:14

actually a pretty good point there Keith, its one thing that all we geeksters know what to do and what to accept/not to accept – but what’s the average Joe going to do?
Never actually thought of it that way… could really be a kick the balls for their internet experience.

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