This 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.
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….
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?
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