I always knew that we should never have joined the EU, but I hate to be proven right when a new absolutely stupid and pointless law is brought into effect!
On 26th May 2011 the EU brought in a new Privacy and Communications Directive concerning cookies (of the internet kind!) that affects the majority of websites.
Don’t understand Cookies? See here: http://www.allaboutcookies.org/
This new directive says that is inadequate, and you must now get the user’s consent before dropping a cookie. Relying on the fact that they have set their browser to receive them is no longer good enough. There is a VERY narrow exception to this rule in that if the cookie is ‘strictly necessary’ for a service requested by the user, for example a shopping basket.
However, Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, stated, “it will take some time for workable technical solutions to be developed, evaluated and rolled out so we have decided that a phased in approach is right” and webmaster in the UK have been given a years grace in order to implement. But, within that time, if somebody visits your site which drops them a cookie and they complain, you must show that you are currently working on a solution and have a realistic plan in place.
At the moment it seems only a couple of sites have put into practice anything on their website concerning this new directive. In fact the only one that I know of that has done anything is the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). At the top of their website they have a notice concerning cookies. Their site is still not in compliance with the new law though, despite showing this notice. Since implementing this their website statistics are, well frankly, a waste of time having, as can be seen here: ICO website traffic impact of cookie opt in | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.
This image shows a sudden drop in visitors in the ICO analasis statistics, which is not really true, the visitors are still coming to their site but just not being recorded.
As is often the case with new rules and regulations, nobody REALLY seems to know exactly what is going on and there are plenty of mixed messages about. Ed Vaizey (Culture Minister, Department for Culture, Media and Sport) has written an open letter, which, in my opinion, really confuses the whole matter as to exactly what is required.
You can read more details on this new rule at the following ICO links:
- New PECR rules – what do they mean for me?
- Enforcing the revised Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
- Changes to the rules on using cookies and similar technologies for storing information
- Plans for ICO website on changes to cookies rules
The thing is, analysis statistics are always anonymous – so whose privacy is really being invaded? Forums and communities have to drop cookies to keep the user loged in, so surely by registering they are agreeing to the cookie! This law just boils down to stupidity and a total waste of time, energy and money!