Have you ever heard of the “EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive”? Well it’s come into effect as law in the UK as of 25 May this year, with businesses having a year to comply.
Here in the Netherlands no law amendment has been made, but it will be discussed in the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives), so I’m watching to see what the outcome will be. I don’t know the progress in other EU countries. (You can read more about the Dutch situation, in Dutch).
What seems to be required is an “opt-in” before a cookie placed on the visitors computer. Since most commercial websites add cookies for a range of purposes this will have a huge impact, and could significantly impact a visitor’s browsing experience. Imagine if every click on a site raised a pop-op informing you that a cookie was being placed and asking for you to agree or cancel. Most visitors would be quickly annoyed.
But there are other ways this could be implemented, I was visiting All Thing D for the first time. I was presented with this banner.
The promise to only present this note the first time you visit this site is met by setting a cookie, but it’s tracking cookies they are more concerned about. The “read more” link takes you to a page explaining their point of view on tracking cookies, and giving visitors information on how to remove cookies, or opt-out.
It’s a method that is more helpful to the visitor, and more visitor-friendly, but I’m not sure whether it will meet the requirements of the EU directive.
Cookies often store information about your last visit so that you do not have to re-enter information to a site, so they can be helpful – including password information on registration sites. Cookies can also be used as part of measuring traffic on the site. But they can also track all the sites you visit and send that information back to the site that set the cookie, or be used to track your viewing behaviour in order to customise the ads offered to you. The EU directive is connected to concerns at these uses of cookies.
I would definitely like to see more information available for visitors on what cookies are being set and how they are used. But endless popups are incredibly irritating for the user, so I’m hoping the ‘provide information’ option and one accept will work. Then of course there’s the question of whether visitors outside EU should have their visiting interrupted if it’s not legally required.