EU Approves New Cookie Law


A few weeks ago in a post I wrote I jokingly touted the myth that us SEOs could soon be out of work.  As I sit here typing  now my face is somewhat straighter, however I can assure you that my eyebrows are very much raised.  The reason for my bemusement is due to new legislation that has just been approved by the Council of the European union that requires web users to consent to the use of internet cookies.

We assume that most of our readership are educated in such jargon, but for the uninitiated cookies are basically small pieces of text stored on a user’s computer by their web browser that contain bits of information such as user preferences, shopping cart contents, tracking web movements or any other data that needs to be used by whatever website is being browsed.

This isn’t the first time that the subject of cookies has made the news, having previously been subject to UK regulations in 2003.  This stated that companies had to declare certain information about the use of cookies on their sites – more specifically that users should be “provided with clear and comprehensive information about the purposes of the storage of, or access to, that information”.  Being the law abiding citizens that Fluid Creativity are, we of course adhere to this but now that law has now taken one big preposterous leap forward.

The laws that come into effect within the next 18 months would mean that users would have to agree to websites making use of cookie information.  Precisely what form this would take is uncertain however it is speculated it would be via the use of that bain of the internet – the pop-up window.  A few years ago, our government’s proposed introduction of ID cards  caused such a furore that in comparison this extension of the previous law on cookie usage may seem reasonable to the casual observer.  As so much business and industry depends on targeted online advertising and tracking of internet traffic, the implementation of such laws is clearly so misguided as to be laughable.  There appears to be an exception to this law whereby cookies can be utilised for the provision of a service that is “strictly necessary” and has been “explicitly requested” by the user.  How broad these definitions extend we will no doubt see by companies wishing to push the boundaries of this law in order stay profitable.

Apart from knowledge acquired whilst watching Judge Judy, I’m no legal mind however I can’t seriously see these laws being accepted.  I anticipate there will be a groundswell of dissent similar to that for which we have seen for the proposed ‘3 strikes’ law for persistant file sharers.

Surely our law makers are more grown up than this.

James Chapman
  • Written by on 12th November 2009 at 17:39
  • “James Chapman is an SEO consultant at Fluid Creativity.”
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  • jamesrosseo1

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